Research By Degrees - HDR News

Research By Degrees - HDR News

Research By Degrees - Higher Degree Research News


Here is where you can find out the latest news from our Higher Degree Research students.

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Babatunde Ayeni – APS March Meeting Conference , Baltimore, ab_profileMaryland, USA, March 2016

My name is Babatunde Ayeni, and I am a PhD student in the group of A/Prof. Gavin Bremen. The focus of my research is on (topological) phase transitions in systems of non-Abelian anyons. In quite simple terms, anyons are particles which only exist on the surface of a material, i.e. in two-dimensions. Apart from the theoretical aesthetic appeal of these particles, they also hold a promise to realise a quantum computer. Anyonic systems are quite challenging to study analytically, and even to simulate computationally. In my group, we have developed a number of ansatze based on tensor network theory to simulate anyons. In particular, together with my collaborators, I extended the anyonic matrix product states (MPS) ansatz to include U(1) symmetry, which can be used to simulate anyonic systems at fixed particle density.

During the month of March, this year, I attended the American Physical Society (APS) ab_dinnerconference—-which is nicknamed “March meeting”, where I presented some of the exciting results that I obtained on the phase diagram of braiding and interacting Ising anyons. The number of attendees at this year’s APS March meeting, which took place at Baltimore Maryland, was almost ten-thousand souls! Apparently, March meeting is always a big conference, with people coming from all over the world. Usually, the  way those kind of big conferences work is that, multiple sessions run in parallel, and people can choose which talk to attend. In the March meeting, each speaker has an allotted time of twelve minutes to speak, after which the audience can ask about two-to-three questions. In that short time, the speaker cannot go into the details of the talk, except to advertise the results. I gave my talk, and I think it was well received. Afterwards, someone in the audience asked me a very simple question, and that was it! I also attended couple of interesting talks, and also got the chance to meet (or see) some iconic physicists.

On the  overall, the APS March meeting was fun. It’s one of those places early career researchers (PhDs + postDocs) want to go to. It’s an avenue to network with other scientists. The city of Baltimore itself is not a bad place. That city has a shady history of gangsterism, but I didn’t experience anything of such; it’s quite a lovely place. I like it. It was fun!

Michelle Whitford – Mass Spectrometry, April 2016

During the university break I was able to visit La Trobemichelle_withford_profile University in Melbourne to complete the experiments for my Masters thesis. I worked at the Centre for Materials and Surface Science with Professor Paul Pigram and Dr Rob Jones using their Time-of-flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (TOF-SIMS). 

I depth profiled three different groups of Ancient Egyptian faience beads to look for signs of corrosion in their chemical composition. Our initial results prove that these beads are a lot more complex than we first anticipated - there are many surprising elements appearing in these beads! I am looking forward to analysing the data I have collected to improve conservation methods and better understand the Ancient Egyptian culture.


Nora Tischler – Cotutelle: Australia and Austria 2014-2015nora_profile

Under a cotutelle agreement it is possible to do a PhD jointly in two countries. In my case these countries were two letters and 16,000 km apart - Australia and Austria. This has given me the opportunity to be part of two groups, the group of Assoc. Prof. Gabriel Molina-Terriza here at Macquarie University, and the group of Prof. Zeilinger at the University of Vienna. My time in beautiful Vienna has been very rewarding, letting me experience the vibrant research environment, meet many people, and learn a lot. 

My main project there was a quantum metrology experiment in which we measured optical activity, a polarisation-dependent phase imparted on light by chiral media. For an object to be chiral means that it is impossible to bring a mirror inverted version in coincidence with the original one, even when allowing rotations. A helix is one of the best known examples of a chiral object. An astonishing fact is that life on earth is asymmetric: The sugars and aminoacids in living organisms have particular handedness, and physiological processes can distinguish between molecules of different handedness. 

In our proof-of-principle experiment, we used quantum light to probe the wavelength-dependent optical activity of sucrose solutions. Our probe light consisted of polarisation-entangled photon pairs specifically designed to access multicolour properties of the optical activity. The resource of entanglement allows for an improved sensitivity compared to typical classical measurement schemes.


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