MSc projects - Call for summer term 2024

In this call, the VDSP will finance up to 13 MSc fellowships.

The following projects are available for the research phase of a VDSP MSc fellow:


  • Markus ARNDT - Matter-wave experiments exploring the internal dynamics of complex molecules

    Far-field diffraction of complex hot molecules was pioneered in our labs at the University of Vienna and is now being extended to studies of diverse internal electrical, magnetic and optical properties. Interestingly, while de Broglie waves capture the dynamics of the center of mass motion they are also sensitive to coherent and conservative couplings to internal states.



  • Markus ARNDT - Photocleavable Tags for Mass Spectrometry and Matter-Wave Interferometry

    While mass spectrometry of proteins is ubuiquitous, charge reduction of proteins in high vacuum has been a long-standing challenge, and as of today there are hardly any tools to prepare controlled neutral protein beams. We are tackling this challenge using photocleavable tags.

  • Markus ARNDT - Superconducting quantum detectors for atomic & molecular beams

    Based on the recent EU FET Open project “SuperMaMa” we are pushing the limits of cryogenic quantum detectors for novel applications in molecular science and quantum optics.

  • Markus ARNDT - Trapping of nanobiological matter

    We are exploring methods to launch and trap stable nanobiological matter in high vacuum for applications in cooling, quantum state preparation and quantum sensing.

  • Markus ASPELMEYER - Precision tests of gravity at microscopic scales

    We are currently building new experiments to probe gravity at unprecedentedly small mass and length scales (see Westphal et al., Nature 591, 225 (2021) for a recent example from our group). These experiments will help bridge the gap to future quantum tests of gravity. We are looking for a Master student with a keen interest in experimental physics, gravity and quantum science.

  • Markus ASPELMEYER & Nikolai KIESEL - Quantum controlling levitated objects

    We are currently extending our experiments on quantum optical control of levitated nanoparticles (see Magrini et al., Nature 595, 373 (2021) for a recent example from our group) to the regime of large quantum delocalization and large particles, thereby entering a new domain of macroscopic quantum phenomena. We are looking for a Master student with a keen interest in quantum optics and the foundations of quantum physics to join our efforts.



  • Caslav BRUKNER - Einstein Synchronisation in Quantum Reference Frames

    Project description: Einstein synchronisation (or Poincaré-Einstein synchronisation) is a convention for synchronising clocks at different locations by exchanging signals. However, due to the relativity of simultaneity, whether or not two spatially separated events occur at the same time is not absolute, but depends on the observer's frame of reference. This must be taken into account when clocks are synchronised from a frame that moves at a certain speed relative to them. In this project, we will consider the "quantum" version of the problem and investigate how the synchronisation must be done from a quantum reference frame that moves in a superposition of velocities relative to the clocks.


    Theoretical work.



  • Nils CARQUEVILLE- Topological quantum computation via defects in topological quantum field theory

    Topological quantum field theory is a mathematically rigorous approximation to proper quantum field theory. The approximation can be perfect in some settings, as e.g. in the application to topological quantum computation. The project aims to describe qubits in terms of state spaces and quantum gates in terms of "bordisms with defects".

    Field: theoretical


  • Oliver HECKL - Single-cavity dual-comb spectroscopy

    We build frequency combs and explore the capabilities of singe-cavity dual-combs for precision spectroscopy. Get to learn about nonlinear optics, dual-comb spectroscopy and complex laser dynamics.

  • Andre HOANG - Operator product expansion for the vacuum polarization function

    The vacuum polarization function of the photon describes how quantum effects affect the energy dependence of the electromagnetic coupling. It is a fundamental quantity and also affects many scattering processes in collider physics and the decay of many particles which are unstable. In this project the standard operator product expansion of the vacuum polarization function originally devised by Shifman, Vainshtein and Zakharov will be calculated to all orders in a massive gluon model. The result will then be generalized to a nonlocal operator product expansion based on the gradient flow method, which could show substantially better convergence. It this is true, the new method may find applications in a large range of other important applications in the future.

  • Andre HOANG & Allessandro BROGGIO - Precision calculations for the top-quark pair production process at the LHC

    The top quark is the heaviest elementary particle observed in nature and plays a unique role in the Standard Model of particle physics due to its large coupling to the Higgs boson.

    Top quarks are mainly produced at hadron colliders through the strong interactions in association with their own antiparticle. The production process of top quark pairs is one of the most important reactions in particle physics and it has been measured very precisely at the LHC. However, experimental analyses rely heavily on fully exclusive simulations provided by Monte Carlo event generators.


    The main goal of the thesis is to calculate a set of Feynman diagrams which involve soft gluon emission corrections that are relevant both for the top-antitopquark pair production process and the associated production of a Higgs boson with a top-anitopquark pair at the Large Hadron Collider. The project will employ computational techniques from Soft-Collinear Effective Theory (SCET) and also numerical integration methods. The evaluation of these contributions will be fundamental for a future implementation of a precise Monte Carlo event generator for processes involving top-anitopquark pairs which use N-jettiness as a jet resolution variable.


  • Andre HOANG & Tyler CORBETT - Geometric aspects of the Standard Model Effective Field Theory at one loop

    Over the last few years a new approach to understanding indirect evidence of novel particle phenomena has developed using geometric techniques and the quantum field theoretic method of effective field theories. We will develop the one-loop two-point functions of the particles of the Standard Model in this formalism. For context - two-point functions are the functions that describe the motion of a particle from one point in space time to another, and one-loop calculations are the subleading corrections in the perturbative expansion of the Standard Model.


  • Andre HOANG & Massimiliano PROCURA - Vacuum tadpole contributions in top quark production

    Radiative tadpole corrections to the Higgs field vacuum expectation value of the Standard Model coming from the interaction between the Higgs boson and the top quark are very large and affect the relation of the top quark mass determined from experiments and the top quark Yukawa coupling to the Higgs boson. In the project these large tadpole corrections are implemented in a jet mass cross section that is used for top quark mass measurements using different renormalization schemes for the vacuum expectation value. It shall be then investigated in which way these scheme choices can affect studies of the vacuum stability of the Standard Model. The results are relevant for the interpretation of the top quark mass measurements at the Large-Hadron-Collider.

  • Thomas JUFFMANN - Colibri: Combining lifetime measurements with brilliant imaging

    Fluorescence lifetime microscopy yields information about the local environment of a fluorophore (pH, binding partners, ion concentration...), which is crucial for analyzing the metabolic state of cells and tissue. We have built a detector that can measure fluorescence lifetimes orders of magnitude faster than previously possible. This enables combining lifetime measurements with other advanced microscopy techniques such as light-sheet or super-resolution microscopy.

    You will work in close collaboration with biologists in order to optimize our lifetime detector for specific life-science applications.

    We are looking for motivated master's students with a passion for science. The work requires a background in physics. Programming and mathematical skills are highly appreciated.

    You will learn how to:

    • Build a microscope
    • Control and automate measurements
    • Analyze Data
    • Collaborate in an inter-disciplinary environment
    • See what no one has seen before



  • Thomas JUFFMANN - Label-free super-resolution microscopy

    Optical microscopy is typically limited to a spatial resolution given by the wavelength of light. Super-resolution microscopy overcomes this limit, building on the level structure of fluorescent labels. We aim to demonstrate label-free super-resolution microscopy techniques, e.g. by harnessing optical near-fields as in optical near-field electron microscopy. You will be working in a team of physicists to enable nanometric resolution in applications ranging from electrochemistry to biophysics.

    You will work in close collaboration with biologists in order to optimize our lifetime detector for specific life-science applications.

    We are looking for motivated master's students with a passion for science. The work requires a background in physics. Programming and mathematical skills are highly appreciated.

    You will learn how to:

    • Build a microscope
    • Control and automate measurements
    • Analyze Data
    • Collaborate in an inter-disciplinary environment
    • See what no one has seen before




  • Jani KOTAKOSKI - Quantum centers in hexagonal boron nitride

    This experimental project explores atomic-scale modification of 2D hexagonal boron nitride, which is the two-dimensional counterpart of diamond, providing a similar solid state matrix for hosting quantum centers. The project will make use of low-energy ion irradiation to create vacancies, combined possibly with e-beam and thermal evaporation to introduce impurity atoms that will be anchored into them. The created structures will be studied at atomic-resolution using scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy.


  • Jani KOTAKOSKI - Atomically clean 2D material surfaces

    This experimental project combines electron energy loss spectroscopy and atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy to measure the amount of ubiquitous surface contamination on two-dimensional materials. During the project, a cleaning routine will be established using high-vacuum annealing to minimize its amount on 2D materials ranging from hexagonal boron nitride and graphene to transition metal dichalcogenides and phosphorene. The expected outcome of the project will make a significant impact in the research of atomically-tailored 2D materials for applications ranging from catalysis to quantum information technology.


  • Andreas NUNNENKAMP - Interaction effects in non-Hermitian models

    The field of non-Hermitian physics is rapidly growing and is attracting significant investigation, both on the experimental and the theoretical side. Introducing non-Hermitian terms in the Hamiltonian allows to study novel phenomena, with no counterpart in the Hermitian setting. In this project, students will explore the effect of interactions in non-Hermitian models, using state-of-the-art analytical and numerical techniques. The aim of the study will be the characterization of the spectral and dynamical properties of non-Hermitian lattice models, e.g. understanding how non-Hermiticity comes into play from the engineering of dissipation, and capturing the interplay of many-body interactions and non-reciprocal hopping in the Hamiltonian. Students will learn current methods in quantum many-body physics and get exposure to relevant topics in the field.

    This is a theoretical project.

    Please find more information:

  • Josef PRADLER & Philip WALTHER - Early universe particle production of sterile states

    The project will encompass various aspects of particle production in the early Universe. Depending on the particle candidate under consideration, the generation channels can be of purely gravitational nature or mediated by interactions with dark matter and/or Standard Model particles. Bounds will be placed on the existence and coupling strengths of particles that are neutral under the Standard Model gauge group, hence "sterile," by utilizing cosmological, laboratory and/or astrophysical probes.



  • Josef PRADLER & Philip WALTHER - Nuclear tests of Bell inequalities 

    In this project, the viability of using nuclear transitions to violate Bell inequalities will be investigated. Kinematic information of decay products - obtained in great precison in dedicated experimental setups - may be used to reconstruct the density matrix of entangled particle pairs that are created in the transition. The project is theoretical. Working knowledge of advanced quantum mechanics (Fermi's golden rule, transition matrix elements, ...), special relativity (particle kinematics), and of the Standard Model are an asset.


  • Massimiliano PROCURA & Tyler CORBETT - Effects from beyond the Standard Model in the decay of the muon

    The muon, the heavier cousin of the electron, is an extremely well studied particle of the Standard Model of particle physics (SM). Using precision measurements of the muon, and in particular of its decay, it is possible to constrain different scenarios of physics beyond the SM. In this project we will make use of the SM Effective Field Theory (SMEFT), a quantum field theory especially well suited to precision calculations of the behavior of the SM particles in the presence of as-yet unknown heavy new particles. We will calculate the decay of the muon in the SMEFT and relate it to precisely measured experimental properties of the muon. This project will support and inform other studies of the SMEFT which help us understand the structure of physics beyond the SM.

  • Massimiliano PROCURA & Robert SCHOEFBECK - Top quark mass measurement with newly developed algorithms

    In the Standard Model of particle physics, the top quark mass is a key parameter playing a crucial role in many precision measurements at colliders as well as in the determination of the long-term stability of the vacuum and thus the fate of our universe. The Master’s thesis project focuses on newly proposed QCD observables that go beyond the existing data analyses at the LHC experiments and allow for a novel precision determination of the top quark mass. A background in particle physics and experience in coding are assets. We offer an excellent opportunity to contribute to ongoing research at the interface between theoretical particle physics at Uni Wien and data analysis with the CMS experiment at CERN’s LHC.

  • Hidetsugu SHIOZAWA - Magnetotransport in metal-filled carbon nanotubes

    The project aims at understanding interactions between ferromagnetic nanoparticles and conduction electrons with a focus on weak localization. It deals with magnetism, electrical transport, and magneto-transport of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) that encapsulate ferromagnetic metal nanowires. The successful MSc candidate is expected to synthesize metal nanowires inside SWCNTs, and carry out characterization by optical spectroscopy, magnetometry and low-temperature magneto-transport measurements.


  • Dieter SUESS - Micromagnetics of skyrmion devices

    In today's digital world, the need for data storage is growing exponentially, leading to a constant demand for new storage concepts that offer higher density, faster access and lower power consumption. These concepts can enable breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics, which require massive amounts of data storage and processing power.
    The Master's thesis will extend and perform micromagnetic simulations to develop a new magnetic data storage concept that uses tiny vortices or twists in the magnetic moments of a magnet, called magnetic skyrmions.

  • Toma SUSI - Realistic frozen phonons: thermal diffuse scattering from first principles

    While we often think of crystals as static, atoms in real materials are never at rest, even at zero temperature. This affects the scattering of electron waves from lattices, referred to as thermal diffuse scattering in transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Typically this is described in the frozen phonon approximation, where atoms are displaced randomly when images or diffraction patterns are simulated. However, the real vibrational modes and amplitudes are correctly described by the phonon dispersion of the material, which can be calculated with density functional theory. The aim of this thesis is to create a formalism for the appropriate sampling of phonon modes to create realistic displacements for TEM simulations, which will be conducted with the in-house open-source abTEM code. This may further enable the flexible simulation of ultra-low energy-loss spectra, which have become a powerful probe of the vibrational properties of materials down to the atomic scale. The successful candidate is expected to have learned solid-state physics and the Python programming language.


  • Eberhard WIDMANN - Quantum Reflection (QR) and Quantum Gravitational States (GQS) of Atomic Hydrogen

    M. Sc. Project at the Stefan Meyer Institute for Subatomic Physics, Austrian Academy of Sciences:

    Quantum Reflection (QR) and Quantum Gravitational States (GQS) of Atomic Hydrogen


    Project Overview:

    At very low energies, an atom above a horizontal surface can experience quantum reflection (QR) due to the attractive Casimir-Polder potential. QR holds the atom against gravity and leads to quantum gravitational states (GQS), in analogy to what has been observed with ultracold neutrons [1]. The GRASIAN1-collaboration pursues the first measurement of QR and GQS of atomic hydrogen. To achieve this, an experiment has been designed and set up at ETH Zurich. Over the past year, a cryogenic hydrogen-beam and a pulsed ultraviolet laser detection system were successfully installed and characterized [2]. In late 2023, the experiment will be relocated to SMI Vienna.


    Opportunity for Master's Students:

    We are looking for a master's students to contribute to this research by participating in the improvement and setup of the experiment in Vienna. This endeavor will focus on the reduction of background and the improvement of the detection of the slow-velocity tail of hydrogen atoms, a crucial component for GQS/QR measurements. This will include working with:

    ·         Vacuum systems: Working with advanced vacuum systems.

    ·         A laser system:

    o   Setup and alignment of a continuous-wave (CW) and a pulsed laser.

    o   Pulse Dye Amplifier: Operating and optimizing a pulse dye amplifier.

    o   Nonlinear crystals and second/third harmonic generation

    o   Alignment of telescopes

    ·         Cryogenics: Working with a coldhead and and installation of a cold nozzle, temperature sensor, heater …

    ·         Python-Based Data Acquisition: Utilizing Python for data acquisition and analysis.

    ·         Red Pitaya: FPGA programming


    [1] V.V. Nesvizhevsky, H.G. Börner, Alexander Petukhov, Hartmut Abele, Stefan Baessler, Frank Ruess, Thilo Stöferle, Alexander Westphal, A. Gagarski, Gennady Petrov, and A. Strelkov. Quantum states of neutrons in the earth’s gravitational field. Nature, 415:297–9, 02 2002.

    [2] Killian, C. et al. GRASIAN: towards the first demonstration of gravitational quantum states of atoms with a cryogenic hydrogen beam. Eur. Phys. J. D 77, 50 (2023).



    Stefan Meyer Institute


  • Eberhard WIDMANN -Characterization of 3D-printed high-performance materials for applications in precision experi-ments

    M. Sc. Project at the Stefan Meyer Institute for Subatomic Physics, Austrian Academy of Sciences:

    Characterization of 3D-printed high-performance materials for applications in precision experiments


    The Stefan Meyer Institute for Subatomic Physics ( is currently looking for a Master student for a project in general support of our experiments on the precision frontier of particle physics. The goal is to characterize the performance of 3D-printed polymer and ceramic parts under ultra-high vacuum and cryogenic conditions to assess their potential applications in precision physics experiments.

    Test pieces will be produced using 3D printers of two world leading companies in the field of additive manufacturing, namely Cubicure1 (polymers, device available at SMI) and Lithoz2 (ceramics, parts provided within a collaboration). The properties which should be characterized at various temperatures are outgassing rates by residual gas analysis, thermal conduction, thermal expansion, and electric isolation properties. With the support of SMI’s advanced instrumentation group the successful candidate shall improve the existing test setups, measurement strategies, and geometries of test pieces as well as perform measurements and analyse the results. Contact persons of Cubicure and Lithoz will assist with their expertise on additive manufacturing when necessary.


    The following skills will be an asset: experience in experimental physics and working in laboratories, basic knowledge of vacuum and cryogenic equipment as well as data acquisition and analysis, interest for or experience with additive manufacturing, creativity for designing experiments and solving problems.


    Stefan Meyer Institute

  • Eberhard WIDMANN - Open-charm production studies with the ALICE experiment at the LHC

    M. Sc. Project at the Stefan Meyer Institute for Subatomic Physics, Austrian Academy of Sciences:

    Open-charm production studies with the ALICE experiment at the LHC


    Topics of the thesis:

    ALICE was built to study hadronic collisions (pp and A-A) and, in particular, aims to investigate the Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP), the state of matter during the first instants of life of the universe. When two ultra-relativistic heavy nuclei collide, the extreme conditions of temperature and pressure, necessary for the QGP formation, can be created. In particular, heavy quarks (charm and beauty) are produced in hard scattering processes during the first stages of the hadronic collision. They propagate through the hot medium created in the collision and interact with its constituents, carrying information about the medium's evolution.

    Measurements of hadrons with heavy quarks in pp collisions at the LHC energies are a powerful test for perturbative quantum chromodynamics (pQCD) and the necessary reference for studies of heavy quarks in nucleus-nucleus collisions. Studies in p-Pb collisions, in addition, allow for the investigation of cold nuclear matter (CNM) effects.

    The successful master student, with the support of the SMI ALICE group, will be involved in the analysis of charmed baryons Λc, through the reconstruction of the decay channel Λc → K0s.

    Data collected at the LHC during the last (still ongoing) data taking campaign will be used for the analysis. The analysis will be performed using the detectors of the ALICE central barrel, and in particular exploiting the very good particle identification (PID) capability of ALICE.

    The signal will be extracted via an invariant mass analysis. The high combinatorial background is a challenge for the analysis. It can be reduced using a strong topological selection and using PID to identify protons. The successful candidate will also work on the development of machine learning techniques, which can significantly improve the background subtraction and signal extraction. In order to test physics models, Monte Carlo simulations will be used and compared with detector data.


    Goals: Learning the ALICE software framework and analysis tools. Develop Monte Carlo simulations and new analysis techniques, using in particular machine learning methods. Extraction of Λc production cross section and evaluation of charmed baryon/meson ratio. Comparison with other charmed baryons and mesons analyses performed with ALICE and

    study the total charm production at the LHC.


    Requirements: The candidate should have a deep knowledge of particle physics and very good programming skills (mainly C/C++ and python).


    Stefan Meyer Institute


  • Eberhard WIDMANN - Multi-charm baryons with the state-of-the-art ALICE 3 detector upgrade at the LHC

    M. Sc. Thesis at the Stefan Meyer Institute for Subatomic Physics, Austrian Academy of Sciences:

    Multi-charm baryons with the state-of-the-art ALICE 3 detector upgrade at the LHC


    The ALICE collaboration specializes in the study of QCD matter under extreme conditions of energy density in which a novel state of matter, the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), is formed. State-of-the art detectors as well as cutting-edge data analysis techniques are both required for a successful characterization of the QGP.


    In that context, ALICE is undertaking a comprehensive upgrade programme over the next several years, spearheading many fields ranging from silicon detector technologies to reconstruction techniques. A particular project that is being developed now is a massive upgrade called ‚ALICE 3‘. In this context, a large number of studies are required to establish a connection between practical detector requirements and physics objectives. A successful masters student, in this context, would study the detector requirements of open charm measurements of charmed and multi-charmed baryons. Such a study presents a unique opportunity, as it combines aspects of detector technologies and design, state-of-the art reconstruction and analysis techniques – including Machine Learning – and finally also an understanding of the target physics goals. The exact focus of the thesis may shift according to candidate skills and interests.



    A successful applicant would learn the analysis tools employed by the ALICE collaboration. They would also engage in preparing simulations of multiple detector setups and the calculating expected physics performance for (multi-)charmed baryons in each detector configuration as well as comparing these expected performance figures to previous/other experiments. The skillset gained in such a masters thesis would be of high value for any subsequent academic efforts.



    Expertise in Software Development using C++ and python is desirable. Expertise with Machine Learning techniques is considered an advantage.


    Stefan Meyer Institute