Master Projects

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Master Thesis Research Projects

The following Master thesis research projects are offered at Nikhef. If you are interested in one of these projects, please contact the coordinator listed with the project.

Projects with a 2021 start

Dark Matter: Sensitive tests of wavelength-shifting properties of materials for dark matter detectors

Rare event search experiments that look for neutrino and dark matter interactions are performed with highly sensitive detector systems, often relying on scintillators, especially liquid noble gases, to detect particle interactions. Detectors consist of structural materials that are assumed to be optically passive, and light detection systems that use reflectors, light detectors, and sometimes, wavelength-shifting materials. MSc theses are available related to measuring the efficiency of light detection systems that might be used in future detectors. Furthermore, measurements to ensure that presumably passive materials do not fluoresce, at the low level relevant to the detectors, can be done. Part of the thesis work can include Monte Carlo simulations and data analysis for current and upcoming dark matter detectors, to study the effect of different levels of desired and nuisance wavelength shifting. In this project, students will acquire skills in photon detection, wavelength shifting technologies, vacuum systems, UV and extreme-UV optics, detector design, and optionally in C++ programming, data analysis, and Monte Carlo techniques.

Contact: Tina Pollmann and Patrick Decowski

Dark Matter: XAMS R&D Setup

The Amsterdam Dark Matter group operates an R&D xenon detector at Nikhef. The detector is a dual-phase xenon time-projection chamber and contains about 4kg of ultra-pure liquid xenon. We use this detector for the development of new detection techniques - such as utilizing our newly installed silicon photomultipliers - and to improve the understanding of the response of liquid xenon to various forms of radiation. The results could be directly used in the XENONnT experiment, the world’s most sensitive direct detection dark matter experiment at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory, or for future Dark Matter experiments like DARWIN. We have several interesting projects for this facility. We are looking for someone who is interested in working in a laboratory on high-tech equipment, modifying the detector, taking data and analyzing the data him/herself. You will "own" this experiment.

Contact: Patrick Decowski and Auke Colijn

Dark Matter: DARWIN Sensitivity Studies

DARWIN is the "ultimate" direct detection dark matter experiment, with the goal to reach the so-called "neutrino floor", when neutrinos become a hard-to-reduce background. The large and exquisitely clean xenon mass will allow DARWIN to also be sensitive to other physics signals such as solar neutrinos, double-beta decay from Xe-136, axions and axion-like particles etc. While the experiment will only start in 2025, we are in the midst of optimizing the experiment, which is driven by simulations. We have an opening for a student to work on the GEANT4 Monte Carlo simulations for DARWIN, as part of a simulation team together with the University of Freiburg and Zurich. We are also working on a "fast simulation" that could be included in this framework. It is your opportunity to steer the optimization of a large and unique experiment. This project requires good programming skills (Python and C++) and data analysis/physics interpretation skills.

Contact: Patrick Decowski and Auke Colijn

Detector R&D: Performance of the ALPIDE monolithic active pixel sensor with radiation damage

The ALICE inner tracking system (ITS) 2 is currently being installed at the large hadron collider (LHC) at CERN. This detector makes use of ultra-lightweight monolithic active pixel sensors, the first to use this technology at a particle collider after the STAR experiment at RHIC in Brookhaven. These very thin pixel detectors have a low power consumption, result in very little material in the detector, and still have optimal timing and resolution -- and are a promising technology for future experiments. You will be part of the international ALICE collaboration and investigate the ALICE ALPIDE chip. Although ALICE will not see high levels of radiation at the LHC, it has so far not been tested whether this chip can withstand very high levels of radiation and could be, if there is no large degradation in performance, be used in experiments like ATLAS as well. You will be part of the Nikhef R&D group where you will learn about new detector technologies for high energy physics and learn to design a test setup to characterize the ALPIDE chip in a particle beam using the many instruments at the Nikhef R&D labs. You will then test the chip at the Delft or Groningen facilities that provide a particle beam.

Contact: Jory Sonneveld

Detector R&D: Time resolution of a high voltage monolithic active pixel sensor

For the first time, CMOS monolithic active pixel sensors (MAPS), where chip and sensor are integrated, are being used in an experiment at the LHC. Although this is a common technology in industry, it is rather new in the high rate, high radiation environments of high energy particle physics. The ALICE experiment is currently installing such MAPS to which a moderate bias voltage can be applied. You will work in the international RD50 collaboration that works on radiation hard semiconductor devices for very high luminosity colliders, and investigate their MAPS that can be biased to very high voltages to avoid signal degradation after radiation damage. You will be part of the Nikhef R&D group where you will learn about new detector technologies for high energy physics and learn to design a test setup to get a first measurement of time resolution of the RD50 HV-CMOS chip using the many instruments at the Nikhef R&D labs.

Contact: Jory Sonneveld


Detector R&D: Test beam with a bent ALPIDE monolithic active pixel sensor

The ALICE inner tracking system (ITS) 2 is currently being installed at the large hadron collider (LHC) at CERN. This detector makes use of ultra-lightweight monolithic active pixel sensors, the first to use this technology at a particle collider after the STAR experiment at RHIC in Brookhaven. These very thin pixel detectors have a low power consumption, result in very little material in the detector, and still have optimal timing and resolution -- and are a promising technology for future experiments. For the next long shutdown in 2025, an even smaller feature size version of the ALPIDE chip will be used and will be installed by bending larger surfaces of sensor around the beam pipe. Recent test beams at DESY in Hamburg show this yields good results. You will be part of the Nikhef R&D group where you will learn about new detector technologies for high energy physics and learn to design a test setup to characterize the ALPIDE chip using the many instruments at the Nikhef R&D labs. You will work within an international collaboration where you will learn to analyze test beam data. If the travel situation allows, you will have the opportunity to join the ALICE test beam group in Hamburg at DESY to take part in the exciting experience of taking real data.

Contact: Jory Sonneveld

Detector R&D: Simulating the performance of the ATLAS pixel detector after years of radiation

The innermost detector of the ATLAS experiment at the large hadron collider (LHC) that is closest to the beam pipe is the ATLAS pixel detector. The pixel sensors in this area receive the highest amounts of radiation and their performance suffers accordingly. To better understand the effects of radiation damage and to be able to predict the future performance, the pixel sensors are modeled using programs such as technology computer aided design (TCAD) for modeling electric fields that serves as input for programs such as AllPix2 for modeling observables affecting the signal quality such as charge collection efficiency. In this project, you will learn to use TCAD, a tool widely used in the semiconductor industry, to model electric field maps of the sensor, and get an estimate of the uncertainties by comparing the prediction for different models. You will compare your simulations to real data from the ATLAS experiment as well as to data from test beams. You will work in an international environment within the ATLAS collaboration and be part of the Nikhef detector R&D group where you will learn about the newest detector technologies for high energy physics and beyond. Your improved predictions for the performance of the next ATLAS pixel detector will help ATLAS better prepare for future LHC data taking after the installation of this detector in 2025.

Contact: Jory Sonneveld



Last year's MSc Projects