Our electro-optics lab is home to many student research projects. The lab has a nitrogen laser, a ruby laser, a carbon-dioxide laser, a tunable dye laser, several tunable diode lasers, and numerous helium-neon lasers.
Other instrumentation includes a digital spectrum analyzer, a monochromator, and a lock-in amplifier, and several optical bench systems. Laser research has led to the compact disk, supermarket barcode scanners, laser surgery, and precision machining of metals.
Lasers can also be used to determine the chemical bonds present in a substance using a process called Raman spectroscopy. When laser light scatters from a substance, the scattered light may differ in frequency from the incident light. The frequency shift gives information on the molecular bonds present in the substance.
Bryan Corder (2007) and Scott Roberts (2007) studied the energy structure of rubidium during a summer NASA project at Wesleyan. They used a tunable diode laser to excite the electrons of rubidium. From their measurements, they were able to calculate the shielding factor of rubidium's inner electrons. Their research was supervised by Dr. Wayment (photo).
Duncan Oliver (2007) measured a laser diode's color shift as a function of temperature. He measured the shift by measuring how much light was absorbed by a rubidium vapor cell. He controlled the temperature with a Peltier chip.
Sandra Adkins (2006) determined the quantum-mechanical hyperfine energy structure of cesium by analyzing the light the vapor absorbed from a diode laser. She also studied the Zeeman effect, in which a magnetic field shifts the cesium energies.
Monica Morin (2005) studied Raman spectroscopy of acid drainage from local coal mines. The previous summer, Monica became interested in this topic while working on NSF research at the University of Oregon.
Jackie Queen (2008) is studying the quantum-mechanical hyperfine
energy structure of sodium by analyzing the laser light absorbed by
sodium vapor. Jackie is using an aluminum-gallium-arsenide tunable
diode laser. Her research is funded by NASA.
Ben Vance (2007) studied how potassium vapor absorbs light from a Mitsubishi laser diode by potassium vapor. Ben also measured how temperature affects the absorption frequency. His research was funded by NASA.
Kathy Meyer (2001) studied Raman spectroscopy of polymers using our nitrogen laser. She used her results to determine the bond structure of the polymers. Kathy's research was funded from the Appalachian College Association. She presented her results in a colloquium at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Andy Aurelio (2002) constructed a semiconductor diode laser circuit. In the construction phase of the project, Andy worked extensively with Bob Grose, our machinist. Andy machined the casing from aluminum and soldered the necessary electronics. He used a potassium diphosphate crystal to change the laser's color from infrared to blue.
Robert Hardin (2001) used lasers for multi-photon excitation of potassium electrons. Robert is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Physics at West Virginia University, where he is studying lasers.