Jose A. Mawyin, the Stony Brook Years.

Summer 2001

Summer 2001 was the first time I worked full time on the Laser Teaching Center. During this summer my project dealt with the "Which Way Experiment" which shows a very interesting Quantum Effect. I started working on this project the previous semester with one of the Graduate Students , Mirna Lerotic. After many technical problems (who knew that reflections of mirrors would flip polarization), we gathered enough data for her to present the results in her Optics Rotation talk and for me to present in the Undergraduate Achievements Day. This effect can be explained in different ways. With light it shows that orthogonally polarized light cannot interfere. With particles it can show the collapse of the wave function for a particle traveling through two different branches of an interferometer at the same time. It was a fun project and the beginning of my work on the LTC. We had some neat experiments going on in the LTC there was Ziggy working on his sono-luminescence (even thou at the beginning there was more of the sono part than luminescence), we had Doug working on his holograms, there was Lisa helping everybody with their projects while trying to tidy up the lab and many Simmons people working feverish to complete a project before the end of the program, plus we had Guy. I had the opportunity to meet so many different people from far ranging places such as Australia or Puerto Rico. I spent my free time fraternizing with both people from the REU and the AGEP program even when technically I belonged to AGEP. However, the REU crew had people doing physics so I used to hang out in my building with AGEP one day (the girl from Puerto Rico made some tasty hispanic dishes) and the next day I would crash over the adjoining building to hang out with REU (they had a chef there too but she was vegetarian so no meat, but she was knew her way around salads, wine and cheese). I wish them the best on whichever route they take in the future. I thank Nina from AGEP for her sponsorship during this summer and her continuous help until the present. Memorable things from the summer: watching "You, me and them" on the film festival, the trip to the Metropolitan Museum and the medieval armor and weapons collection, listening to the free concerts at Central Park while sipping a Merlot and eating Brie with a buttered French loaf and who could forget those Square Dancing marathons.

OSA Conference 2001 - Long Beach, California -

The OSA 2001 Conference that took place in Long Beach, California was a blast. I traveled with Doug Broege and we presented our work to the attending Physicist. I presented my work on the "Which Way Experiment" that I worked on the previous summer. We could not get a hotel room nearer the Conference hotel so we spend the week on a Days Inn motel on the outskirts of Long Beach (quite an adventure). We attended a heap of presentations and this was the time when I got interested in Atom Optics and all the neat things that you can to Atoms using light. I enjoyed the talk given by one of the retiring members of the OSA board at the conclusion of the conference, he talked about how Optics (interferometry) can be related to Astrophysics while discussing the grandiose designs for the land-based and space-born Gravity Wave Detectors (LIGO and LISA), those things are huge and for me represent the spirit of big physics. There was a beautiful waterfront beside the Conference hotel with an ocean liner moored on the other side of the shore. Sadly Long Beach seems to go to bed by 8PM so there was nothing to do once it got dark. Also the neighborhood around our motel was kind of rough and tumble and not advisable to wander around in the wee hours of the morning, especially when the bus that brings you back dumps you in the middle of nowhere at 1AM. It was a nice 2 hour walk back to our room (next time I need to remember to bring a compass and map) only to discover that they had invalidated our access cards because some snafu with the credit cards. On the plus side I fell in love with the sourdough burgers from the Jack in the Box beside our motel (so finger licking good) I spent the whole time just eating those. As a personal anecdote I remember when one night back in our room I was telling Doug that one day I could swear I saw those pesky quantum wave equations and that they looked like waving rainbows that trembled when you tried to touch them. His response went like "..sure Jose I believe you". I probably had a head-rush or had a dream after studying for a Quantum Mechanics midterm.

Summer 2002

Another summer at Stony Brook and a new project to work on. This time I worked on non-linear optics and its application. I was tasked to research the possibility of generating 389nm light using frequency conversion of 1447nm and 532nm light in a non-linear crystal. This combination process can be done. However, I found some setbacks on finding an efficient source for the 1447nm light. It was either enough power but with a too broad linewidth or a fine linewidth but with a extremely small power output. In any case the project remains on hold until we can get a better source. But I came up learning a lot about the broad field of non-linear optics and their applications in both experimental physics and telecom. I also learned that sometimes there are more than one ways to get your project started. In this case, frequency conversion was not the only way to get 389nm light but frequency doubling was also an option. Through this project I really became acquainted with the library resources of Stony Brook (once I had 12 books about the same topic under my account) and I had my first exposure on dealing with vendors that don't really know how their advertised product works. We had a big group of REU students this time, there was Doug working on the optimum way to introduce holography as a do it yourself project for the students taking the Optics course next semester, we had Brendan working on chaotic behavior of laser cavities around threshold current (region when gain just compensates over losses), we had Owen working on laser modes inside a home-made HeNe that became the center-piece of many following projects, there was Jill working on the power law and there was Jennifer working on Optics Demostrations. Also, we had a full complement of Simon's students such as Alex and Waldo. During that summer, the night of the 4th of July to be specific, we had an encounter with the security/law enforcement units of the campus. We got into trouble because they said we were loitering around and walking inside the fountain in front of the Administrations building. What happened is that we got into a discussion about strange attractors from Chaos theory and one of my fellow summer researchers was trying to explain the concept to me by using the water fountain as an example (the chaotic behavior of the water droplets as they exit the nozzle are bounded on their trajectory by gravity and their initial velocity). Luckily, after mentioning that we were doing research during the summer, the incident got resolved quickly even thou they told us to vacate the premises. Such is the price needed to pay for the advancement of knowledge. The final presentations were interesting thanks to some insightful questions from the attending faculty and REU students. Highlights: When poor Dr. Noe jumped when he saw Brendan's hat, the Star Wars kid and Clint with the glasses incident.

OSA Conference 2002 - Orlando, Florida -

This was my second OSA conference and my chance to finally visit Florida. During this conference I presented the work I did on non-linear optics and what could be achieved if only we could get our hands on an infrared source that met our requirements. During my previous semester in SB I had developed a taste in Quantum Computing so I attended a handful of talks dealing with this topic. Some of them were somehow above my head but I was able to understand the concepts that they were presenting. The field seems to hold great promises in the not so distant future. However, all of the talks on Q.C. only showed theories of what a Quantum Computer could do and how to build one. There were two memorable memories from this trip. The first was the dinner with the the undergraduates presenting posters hosted by Prof. Metcalf, Dr. Noe and some other Professor whose name slips my mind. While enjoying a refreshment before our meal I had the chance to discuss with Dr. Noe and Prof. ? about what Grad School would be like and the experiences of a physicist both inside and outside a lab. The following meal was unforgettable (im still saving up for that bottle of Faustino I) and showed me not all Physics takes place in a research lab but that also ideas dealing with on-going and future projects are exchanged when you are socializing with your peers. Finally I had a great time when after the conference for the day was closed I got together with other undergraduates to discuss physics in general. What do we like about it right now and where do we think is heading to. It was a very lively discussion and for some reason I don't remember I won the argument in a discussion by mentioning Hawking's Radiation emanating from a black hole (in the sense that the energy trapped inside the black hole can leak out until it evaporates). Probably we were talking about the heat death of the universe or another such wild eye topic. And never forget those wacky Brazilian guys that we met at the party at the closing day of the conference.

Summer 2003

My third summer at Stony Brook and as usual I started working on a new project. This time I'm working on the Simulation of the Optical Bloch Equations for two and three level systems. They all deal with population transfer schemes that use light sources that are slowly changing in frequency to move atoms from one state to another with high efficiency. My interest on this subject arose after attending an Optics Rotation event where graduate student Dan Li made a presentation that dealt with the two level problem. I liked the principle behind this process and I asked Prof. Metcalf if I could continue working on this project. He accepted my request and I started writing my own version of the simulation. Since this is a computer simulation, I had to polish my rusty programming skills. First started with Maple which I found a bit too simple, then I switched to Mathematica which I found too dry and finally settled on MatLab which both offered many more built-in routines for an easier way to write and present the simulation and also has a broad user help database with a community that is eager to help questions posted by users (there is always somebody that knows more than you about a subject). I started working on this project the previous semester and I was able to show an alpha version of my program in the Undergraduate Achievement Day where I was fortunate enough to have the chance to show it to my Optics and Electronics teacher, Prof. Jacobsen and couple of visiting students working on Prof. Weinacht's lab, my former Lasers teacher. However, programming is not all I do in the LTC. We have as every previous summer some students part of the Simmons program. I try to answer their questions while hoping not to confuse them too much. And its great (not confusing them but answering questions) because you don't truly understand something until you can successfully explain it to somebody else. This summer we had an interesting group: Allison working on self-imaging and studying the underlying mechanism behind the Talbot Effect, James working on locking a diode laser to the Rubidium cell resonance for his MOT and Tom working on the effects of extreme light intensity on different materials and its application on laser ablation and engraving. Highlights: Jame's home-made Tesla Coil, Sage's stories (she would beat Sheherazade in a tale tell contest, "It was the funniest thing ever! :)") and finally that one day while talking in the Talbot/MOT/Tweezers lab and from behind the curtains we hear Maanit say "I've solved it!" and then *insert your favorite sitcom tune* suddenly Patrick opens the curtains and pops in while complaining about his misfortune with the lab computers, priceless moment. "Real World: Nerdvana", when you combine 4 REU and 6 Simon's students in a lab full of lasers and assorted optics, hilarity ensues. Summer fun.

Stony Brook Laser Teaching Center July-2003