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.


The XENON Dark Matter Experiment: Data Analysis

The XENON collaboration is currently operating the XENON100 detector, currently the world’s most sensitive direct detection dark matter experiment. The detector operates at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory and consists of a so-called dual-phase xenon time-projection chamber filled with 160kg of ultra-pure xenon. The detector has been operational for a number of years and data is available for analysis. Our group has an opening for a motivated MSc student to do data-analysis on the detector. The work would consist of understanding the signals that come out of the detector and in particular focus on the so-called double scatter events. We are interested in developing methods in order to understand the response of the detector better. We are developing sophisticated statistical tools in order to do this. Due to the nature of the work, some familiarity with C++ is required.

Contact: Patrick Decowski

XAMS Dark Matter R&D Setup

The Amsterdam Dark Matter group has built 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 plan to use this detector for the development of new detection techniques (such as utilizing new photosensors) and to improve the understanding of the response of liquid xenon to various forms of radiation. The results could be directly used in the XENON experiment, the world’s most sensitive direct detection dark matter experiment at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory. 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

The Modulation experiment

There exist a few measurements that suggest an annual modulation in the activity of radioactive sources. With a few groups from the XENON collaboration we have developed four sets of table-top experiments to investigate this effect on a few well known radioactive sources. The experiments are under construction in Purdue University (USA), a mountain top in Switzerland, a beach in Rio de Janeiro and the last one at Nikhef in Amsterdam. We urgently need a master student to (1) do the final commissioning of the experiment, (2) collect the 1st big data set, and (3) analyse the first data. We are looking for an all-round physicist with interest in both lab-work and data-analysis. The student will directly collaborate with the other groups in this small collaboration (around 10 people), and the goal is to have the first publication ready by the end of the project.

Contact: Auke Colijn

Testing general relativity with gravitational waves

The Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo detectors are gearing up to make the first direct detections of gravitational waves over the next few years, with a first observing run scheduled for September 2015. Among the most promising sources are mergers of binary systems consisting of neutron stars and/or black holes. The ability to observe the emitted gravitational wave signals will, for the first time, give access to the genuinely strong-field dynamics of general relativity (GR), thereby putting the classical theory to the ultimate test. The Nikhef group has developed a data analysis method to look for generic deviations from GR using signals from merging binary neutron stars. We are now extending this framework to binary black holes, which have much richer dynamics and will allow for more penetrating tests of GR, but which also pose significant new challenges. The student will study the end-to-end response of the analysis pipeline to signals predicted by GR as well as a range of alternative theories of gravity, by adding simulated waveforms to real detector noise. Basic programming skills in C, Python, or related languages are a prerequisite.

Contact: Chris Van Den Broeck