Laguerre-Gaussian Modes: Post #1

Now that I’ve been on campus a week, I have a clearer idea of my project. My research advisor, Professor Novikova, and I modified the research proposal to reflect an exciting development in the lab. It turns out that the Quantum Optics Lab at William and Mary has embarked on a collaboration with its counterpart at Louisiana State University. LSU is currently applying machine learning techniques to optics. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence. It involves algorithms that make decisions by learning patterns from data rather than by relying on specific instructions. Our collaborators at LSU are using machine learning to teach their computers to recognize and analyze laser modes. Right now, they need experimental data to test their algorithm’s accuracy. I get to collect this data. If successful, this algorithm will have applications in quantum computing and quantum information, especially with regards to data storage.

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Separation of Gaussian and Laguerre-Gaussian Laser Modes

For my research project, I will answer the question “Can we design an optical element that physically separates the different modes of Gaussian and Laguerre-Gaussian beams? My project deals with lasers, which are highly focused beams of monochromatic electromagnetic radiation, usually in the form of light. Lasers emit radiation in a few different “modes.” These “modes” correspond to the beam spot’s overall shape and appearance. To analyze the behavior of light, we can shine lasers through optical elements, such as lenses and irises. Different optical elements allow us to manipulate the light differently, perhaps by diffracting it, refracting it, or modifying its properties.

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The Design and Development of 3D Printable Heat Engines (Abstract)

Engines, which power much of modern society from automobiles to heating systems, are applications of a concept in physics known as heat cycles. Heat cycles are a series of thermodynamic transitions that return a system back to its original state. This concept is taught in almost every introductory physics class, but can be tricky to grasp at first. My research is to design and develop 3D printable versions of two common heat engines. This project is threefold. I will need to research the engines and the physics behind them, so I can better understand how they work and are designed. Then, I will need learn the techniques of 3D printing. 3D printing is tremendously powerful, but it has large weaknesses that I need to design around. For example, it is difficult to print smooth surfaces with a 3D printer. Finally, I must plan and engineer the actual engines, troubleshooting as necessary. The goal of my research is to release the models online so they could be accessed by any student, teacher, or professor, as having a physical model would have a positive impact on teaching and learning.

Post #3: Correcting for Beam Effects in the Qweak Experiment

I continue here where I left off before in my last post. This is my final post, and it details the results and conclusions of my research:

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