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BSc / MSc projects

Do your project at the Division of Synchrotron Radiation Research!

Bachelor's and Master's projects are available in all research fields of the Division. Please feel free to contact the corresponding project leader or any other member of the group for more information.

A large part of our research is performed at the MAX IV Laboratory. In addition, we are using several international synchrotron facilities as well as state-of-the-art lab equipment within the physics building.

Although much of our work is relevant to modern industrial technology, most of it is basic research which aims to answer basic questions about the nature and behaviour of surfaces and molecules.

Three-dimensional momentum imaging of core-excited molecules or molecular clusters

Imaging of molecules is a powerful technique for understanding how molecules respond to photoionization or photoexcitation. We are particularly interested in understanding how the geometry of a molecule changes: one example is isomerization or proton transfer that is driven by vibrational excitation. We image ionic fragments in a multicoincidence time-of-flight spectrometer. Our method allows us to extract a detailed picture of changes in molecular geometry on both rapid and slow time scales. The project involves analysis of data obtained at MAX-Lab and includes interpretation of the alignment of core-excited molecules based upon the quantum mechanical dipole operator, as well as analysis of the three-dimensional momentum of fragments from single dissociation events in order to extract information about the geometry and the final dissociative states. The analysis is based upon correlations between the energies of particles as well as angular correlations.

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Time-resolved three-dimensional imaging studies at the atto and femtosecond time scales

Atoms and molecules excited with short intense laser pulses are ionized by single or multiphoton processes. By using two laser pulses with a time delay we can study the temporal behavior of photoionization to specific electronic states, and the fragmentation of molecules can be probed in the time domain. Time-resolved laser photoionization experiments which provide access to the wave like nature of the particles in the system. The experimental method is a three-dimensional imaging technique using a time-of-flight spectroscopy with multiparticle position sensitive detection. The goal of the project is to understand the fundamental interaction between light and matter. This exciting nonlinear photoionization study is carried out in collaboration with the attosecond laser group at the Lund Laser Center.

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Stacked and functionalized 2D materials for the next generation electronic devices and as a new class of model catalyst surfaces

Since 2010 we studied graphene (Gr) extensively mainly with high resolution X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HRXPS) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). In short this research focuses on adsorption on Gr supported metal particles, intercalation of molecules beneath Gr, reaction performed under the graphene cover, doping of Gr by intercalation or hydrogenation, and finally etching of Gr

In 2018, we started a new research project that take advantage of our existing knowledge. The goal of this research project is to develop methods to grow stacked and functionalized 2D materials with atomic scale precision. Such stacked 2D materials are essential for the construction of future and very powerful electronic devices, while dense arrays of functional groups attached to a 2D material is a very interesting starting point for immobilization of homogeneous catalysts. Currently, we study a new electron assisted growth technique and until now we studied stacked graphene (Gr) / hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) heterostructures using a wide range of electron-based techniques (STM, LEED, ARPES, XPS, LEEM). The future directions of this research project goes towards stacked growth of other 2D materials as for example 2D transition metal disulfides and the growth from mass selected and charged fragments onto imprinted charge or defect patterns on 2D films.

Currently, PhD Virginia Boix and ass. prof. Jan Knudsen lead this project. As a diploma or master student on this project you will work in close collaboration with Virginia and Jan and you will get a unique chance to be a part of a real research project.

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Beyond active and non-active phases at equilibrium conditions studied with ambient pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

Real heterogeneous catalysts are complex materials typically composed of active metal or metal oxide particles on a support material. The complexity of these materials makes it, however, difficult if not impossible to obtain atomic-scale information of reaction mechanisms and surface structure. Therefore, scientist often uses simplified model systems based on clean or oxide covered single crystal surfaces to study and mimic the catalysis taking place on the real catalysts. In previous and current studies of such model catalyst surfaces the goal has been to identify equilibrium and majority phases present while the model catalyst is active. Such studies are important, but they assume that the catalyst always is in equilibrium with the gas composition, pressure, and temperature. This is, however, far from the reality in many catalytic applications where the feed gas composition or temperature change with time.

In 2018 we started a new research project focused on the study of the intermediate phases formed between the steady state surface phases. Until now we used transient gas supply (i.e. we change the gas composition rapidly), temperature pulses combined with fast acquisition of x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy at the HIPPIE beamline, to follow surface reconstructions on Pd(100), Pt(111), Ir(111), FeO(111) films, and below graphene films, while measuring activity simultaneously with second to sub-second time resolution.

Assistant Proffesor Jan Knudsen is project leader this project. As a diploma or master student on this project you will work in close collaboration Jan and you will get a unique chance to be a part of a real research project.

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Catalysis on the atomic level - the role of the step?

Catalysis plays a crucial role in modern society, e.g. for exhausts treatment from cars. Despite this wide use, the involved processes are not well understood on the atomic level. We do know, however, that the reactions occur on the surface of the catalyst and that defects, such as steps, on the surface can improve the catalytic activity.

In this project we will compare perfectly flat metal surfaces to surfaces with a high, but controlled, number of steps. The samples will first be tested for catalytic activity towards CO oxidation. Secondly the atomic scale structure will be investigated in order to link it with the catalytic function.

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Laser-based gas-phase studies applied to catalysis

Most often, mass spectrometry is used in order to analyze gases during catalytic studies. This, however only provides a global measure of the of the overall gas composition in the reactor. With laser based techniques, such as laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), it is possible to measure specific species both spatially and temporally resolved. The aim of this master project is to develop the use of LIF in catalysis, to provide a completely new view of catalytic reactions. The measurements will focus on spatially resolved species involved in CO oxidation. The project is a collaboration between the Division of Synchrotron Radiation Research and Combustion Physics.

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Fabrication and Characterisation of Nano-active Membranes

Electrochemical techniques can be used to produce hexagonally ordered cylindrical alumina nanopores. These have proved to make excellent templates for the fabrication of nanowires, batteries, solar cells and novel sensor devices. In the Division of Synchrotron Radiation, we have considerable experience in creating and studying these nanopores. We would like to combine this with our expertise in gas phase catalysis by creating functionalised membranes of nanopores with active metal particles embedded. We would then like to explore how several geometrical parameters effect CO oxidation using laser induced fluorescence.

Samples will be produced electrochemically and characterised with atomic force microscopy (AFM), x-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This a practical “hands on” project with both chemistry and physics lab work, suitable for an ambitious MSc student. 

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Dr. Gary Harlow (

Surface and interface characterization of semiconductor nanowires

Low-dimensional semiconductors, especially semiconductor nanowires, are key materials for future devices like ultrafast transistors, white LEDs, and solar cells with high efficiency at low costs. We are studying the surfaces of such nanowires from the micrometer scale down to individual atoms in order to understand their exciting new physics that enable superior device performance.

Bachelor and Master theses are investigating questions like: “How does the atomic arrangement on a nanowire surface influence its conductivity?” “How can we modify these surface properties?” “How sharp are the interfaces in nanowire devices?” “How does a single nanowire solar cell respond to light?” “How can we image processes as fast as a femtosecond with nanometer resolution?”

Scanning Tunneling Microscopes (STM), Photoemission-based microscopes (PEEM), and other advanced characterization setups in our own labs, at the Lund Laser Centre, and at the MAXIV laboratory are helping us in solving these questions.

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Selective area growth of perovskite nanostructures

Lead halide perovskites have interesting properties for solar cells and X-ray detectors. This project will experimentally investigate selective area growth nanostructures of these materials. Templates will be made in the Lund Nano Lab using electron beam lithography and etching, and the crystals will be grown using solution methods. The resulting nanostructures will be investigated mainly using SEM and optical characterization, and perhaps electrical methods and/or XRD.

This project is suitable for a student looking for an experimental challenge. A background in semiconductor physics and nanofabrication is recommended.

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Coherent X-ray diffraction of nanostructures

X-ray diffraction can be used to analyze strain and crystal structure with very high resolution. With modern synchrotron beamlines such as NanoMax at MAX IV, the spatial resolution can reach tens of nanometers. The spatial resolution can be further improved with advanced iterative phase retrieval methods.

This project will analyze measured and simulated data from strain measurements of nanostructures using synchrotron X-rays, in order to improve these methods.

The project is suitable for a student interested in data analysis and programming. Some background in X-rays is also recommended, but not necessary.

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Magnetoelectric materials

In magnetoelectric materials, the magnetic behaviour can be controlled by an electric field, and vice versa. This type of behaviour is rare, but potentially useful in several device applications.  his project will involve making and characterizing a series of candidate magnetoelectric materials, to see if they meet the necessary requirements. This will involve laboratory work, including X-ray diffraction.

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Contactless resistivity measurements

Measuring the resistivity of a sample can tell us a lot about its properties. Usually, this is done by putting a current across the sample and then measuring the voltage drop across it. Sometimes, however, a contactless method may be more useful. In this project, we will follow the Bean method for measuring resistivity, and work on developing an apparatus for making such measurements at low temperatures.

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High-resolution phase contrast tomography

X-ray tomography is a ubiquitous tool for non-destructive 3D imaging of patients, animals and engineering materials. We are building a high-resolution tomograph with micron spatial resolution, based on a microfocus source. The tomograph is using phase contrast, which gives much better images of samples of light elements, such as organic tissue, plants or food.

This project will use and develop the tomograph to investigate different samples. There are a range of interesting samples that can be investigated, depending on the student’s interests.

This project is suitable for a student interested in performing the entire chain, from sample preparation, imaging using the lab source tomograph, and finally data analysis. Some programming and X-ray knowledge is recommended, but not strictly necessary.

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