Patrick Decowski

BSc and MSc thesis projects

Here is a list of available BSc and MSc projects. This list is not exhaustive, let's talk if you have an idea that you would like to pursue that is not listed below. Please get in touch with me in case you are interested.


BSc Projects


MSc Projects

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.


Using Graphics Cards (GPUs) in the XENON1T Data Acquisition System

Physicists want to find dark matter and computer engineers want to understand how graphic cards can be applied to real work problems; this MSc thesis project combines both. In Physics, a major open question is “what is dark matter?”, which is this mysterious 30% of our Universe. The XENON1T experiment is the next-generation direct dark matter detection experiment that aims to answer this question and study its properties. However, in software engineering, graphics cards (GPUs) are being used to solve a wide range of parallelizable problems with frameworks such as CUDA. These massively parallel devices have greatly advanced in the last decade to meet the demand of gamers. As is typical in particle physics experiments, a CPU farm will be deployed at XENON1T to determine live which events in the detector should be recorded (i.e., triggered). This MSc project will revolve around determining if a special purpose trigger can be developed using matrix operations on a GPU that can outperform the CPU trigger, or if there is some interesting physics that a GPU allows for studying that would be too burdensome for a CPU farm. There is a concrete deliverable using new exciting technologies that will help us search for (and possibly discover) dark matter in new ways. The project is scoped such that the student has well defined tasks by there being a CPU analog to study; however, there is scope to take the project in a different direction if the student wishes. Programming experience is expected; however, software sustainability methods will be taught.


XAMS Dark Matter R&D Setup

The Amsterdam Dark Matter group is constructing an R&D xenon detector at Nikhef. The detector is a dual-phase xenon time-projection chamber and will be filled with about 4kg of ultra-pure liquid xenon. We plan to use this detector for the development of new detection techniques (such as utilizing the GridPix chip) 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. The xenon liquifaction and purification equipment is almost complete and will be tested shortly. We have an opening for an MSc student to help us finish the xenon plant and then, together with engineers and technicians at Nikhef, design, build and test the time-projection chamber. We are looking for someone who is interested in working in a laboratory on high-tech equipment, building the detector in a small group, taking data and analyzing the data him/herself.


Analysis of Sterile Neutrinos

Neutrino oscillation physics is a lively experimentally-driven field where the lectures must be updated yearly. One major question is whether or not a 4th neutrino explains various oscillation anomalies, where this neutrino has no known interactions and is called ‘sterile’. There is strong evidence both for (LSND, MiniBooNE, reactor neutrinos) and against (MINOS, Planck) this hypothesis. This studentship will entail doing parameter estimation (mass, mixing angles) for this neutrino using data from different experiments, including the LSND experiment. It will be shown that not all of these experiments agree. Subsequently, the student will assess the sensitivity of a new experiment to a sterile neutrino by, for example, performing a reactor-neutrino experiment on a submerged nuclear submarine. Other ideas that have not been previously considered may also be studied; creativity is welcome. Programming experience in either Python or C/C++ is favorable. For the student, the end goal is preparation for further study in either experimental or phenomenological neutrino physics.





Latest five papers I am a (co)author on: