Summer Summary 2001
Lisa Bjorndal

May 2001

The month of May found me a new teaching assistant in the Laser Center for the Summer 2001. My first job was to become acquainted with John Noe, the Laser Teaching Center's lab guru, as well as to familiarize myself with the lab, the equipment, the students' projects and possible future projects.

After one week of surfing the LTC's website and reading many papers on the various topics, I began to feel more comfortable in the lab. I took it upon myself to straighten up the lab and order some new supplies before the students arrived at the end of the month. John Noe even set up my very own web page for me! John Fuchs, a student from Scarsdale High School, was here working on trying to determine the various internal alterations the Laser Center's digital camera makes in order to make a "better quality" picture...they just don't know what that means to a physicist! Several WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) students were also coming into the lab several times a week to finish up their semester projects.

The last week of May, the first students began to trickle in. Jose Mawyin,Guy Sisalli and Ziggy Ziegler arrived followed shortly by Doug Broege.

June 2001

The month of June was a crazy one... Jose began working with John Fuchs studying CCD cameras and their characterisitics and researching which camera the LTC could purchase that would give us "scientifically better quality" pictures. Guy expressed a lot of interest in fiber optic bundles and began working with and modifying Alia Sabur's setup. Ziggy almost immediately latched on to sonoluminescence and began reading up a storm. Doug came in with a mind to finish up holograms and move on to something different, but started experimenting with transmission holograms and couldn't stop!

The WISE program came to a conclusion on June 5 with a Final Symposium in S-240 of the Physics building. The juniors gave html or Power Point reports on their experience, the sophomores had a poster presentation and several seniors remarked about their experience in the WISE program. Click here for pictures from the symposium.

John Noe and I started to work on the Century of Physics Timeline poster project to fill in those empty spaces painted on the wall oh so long ago and to fix up the display cases to show off our students marvelous work Even the LTC's mascot, Kacy, helped!

The high school students arrived on June 25 to begin their various programs: Molly Bright and Rohit Gupta, the two Simons program scholars; Noah Corwin, from the Summer Research Institute; and Paul Tcertchian, from St. Francis Preparatory School.

On Thursday, June 26, Professor Erle Graf and the fifteen physics REU students came for a tour of the lab. Jose, Doug, Ziggy, John and I demonstrated quantum interference, holography, sonoluminescence, fiber optics and some fun demonstrations for the students. I think they were pretty impressed with what the students in this lab are doing.

On Friday our beloved boss and mentor, Professor Harold Metcalf, returned from his yearly visit to Bonn, Germany. The students who had not yet had the opportunity got to meet Professor Metcalf and he got an update about the status of student projects.

July 2001

I abandoned everyone in the lab for the fourth of July weekend and went to Ocean City, NJ to visit my family on their annual was a great time, but I really missed the lab:)

The first few weeks of July the REU students really dug in and got their hands dirty on their projects. In between math classes, Jose looked into the Physics Today Buyer's Guide and learned more than you should ever know about CCD cameras. Ziggy actually SAW sonoluminescence AND was able to reproduce it so often that everyone in the lab got a chance to see it. Doug was whipping out transmission holograms like they were going out of style, trying variations such as moving the object with a micrometer to create fringes and making a diffraction grating.

Paul decided to rebuild the optical tweezers setup and he and I began looking at the power box and trying to determine if anything from the previous setup was salvageable or if we had to scrap the whole thing and start anew. Noah found out about Fourier transforms and found an interesting computer program that would take a computer generated hologram and perform a reverse Fourier transform to recreate the slit pattern which generated the hologram. Rohit took an interest in birefringence and starting wandering over to the material science department to talk to Professor Miriam Rafailovich about stress patterns and birefringence. Meanwhile, Molly was still trying to decide out of the many topics she had researched which was the most interesting.

Limor Spector and Kaylin Hessler, both high school students who wrote papers on holography, independently stopped by the lab and expressed interest in doing a possible project.

On July 12, Tony Pirera from Spectrum Thin Films gave a fascinating talk on optical they work, what types of materials are used and how the coatings are applied.

A new Simon's student, Peter Amendola, joined us mid-month and started working with Paul Tchertchian on the optical tweezers project. In no time at all, Peter had made himself at home in the lab and had become familiar (quite familiar in fact) with the various sensitive pieces of equipment and within a few short days had the tweezers setup up and running.

While John Noe was away, Scott (that's my fiancee) and I decided to surprise him and completed construction on the Century of Physics Timeline posters out in the hall. They look marvelous!

On July 27, the Summer Research Institute program ended and Noah Corwin gave a fabulous presentation on Computer Generated Holograms. However, Dr. Noe forgot to bring his camera, so this moment was not recorded forever on film, except by Noah's parents.

Each week, the REU students have been doing this crazy thing called Contra dancing, which is a version of square dancing. They have been bugging me all summer to go with them and this week they finally suckered me into it. We went to the Brush Barn on 25A and danced our fannies off! It was great!

Molly decided that Mueller Matrices were "cool" and that coherent back scattering was "interesting." She found a paper called "Diffuse Backscattering Mueller Matrices of Highly Scattering Media." "PERFECT!" she exclaimed, and set off on her way to learn about matrices and set up a scattering experiment. After searching for some good first surface mirror, having ?? from the glass shop drill a hole through one, and performing some creative construction for lens holders, the setup was complete. She has now obtained Scion software from NIH (free on the web) to manipulate the photos she will soon take with our new CCD camera!

Rohit has been fervently working on his project over in material sciences. He has been engineering samples of various plastics and plastic/clay mixes to test their stress birefringence patterns using a Stress Opticon. Unfortunately, the first samples were too thin to study properly, so he had to redesign the mold and remake thicker plastic samples, which he can test when he returns from checking out colleges.

Paul and Peter have the optical tweezers completely set up and have recently been working on focusing the laser beam so that they can view the trapped polystyrene balls properly on the television screen. Maybe one day they can bring in some microorganisms and see if they can trap something alive!

August 2001

Thursday, August 2 was the official end of the REU program. The presentations were given in Physics S-240. Doug talked about the differences between reflection and transmission holograms and showed several examples that he had created. He also talked about a possible investigation into making holograms of vibrational modes of musical instruments which has been done before at Goshen. Ziggy explained the theory behind sonoluminescence and how, in his study, he analyzed the frequency modes as a function of the volume of water in the flask in order to maximize the light intensity. Once again, Dr. Noe forgot his camera, so no Kodak moments. It might have something to do with the fact that Doug, Ziggy and Dr. Noe were here at the lab until 2:30 in the morning finishing their presentations!

The AGEP presentations took place on Friday, August 3. Unfortunately, Jose's talk started early and John Noe only caught the last half, I caught the last few minutes and Doug missed the entire thing! However, he gave a wonderful Power Point presentation on the Macroscopic Observation of Quantum Effects using his Mach-Zender interferometer setup and also discussed some of his research on CCD cameras. You would think that someone would have remembered the camera, huh? Here's some pictures anyway and a nice close up of Jose and Dr. Noe getting their awards.

Friday, August 10, the Simons program ended with a reception and awards ceremony in the SAC auditorium. Wendy Katkin, the head of the program spoke as well as Liz Kelley, the program coordinator. Certificates were awarded to all student participants as well as their mentors. Jim Simons gave a brief speech about how proud he was to be responsible for such a wonderful program. Once again the camera was forgotten!

David Schwartz, who has been in correspondence with John Noe about working in the lab joined us this week. He may do some testing on the new laser we just received from Melles Griot as an introduction to the lab and perhaps do a project this fall.

Several of the students are still here working on various projects. Molly, Rohit and Peter seem motivated to continue in their work over the fall semester and possibly complete in Intel project. Jose has been stopping by every few days. We finally ordered a CCD camera from Electrim and should hopefully receive it shortly. After ordering two lasers from Melles Griot and not being completely satisfied with their performance, we are now considering ordering a 25 mW laser from e-bay ... a somewhat risky venture, but it would be a great deal if we got it!