Graduating seniors Chris Johnstone and Casey Sanchez and masters candidates Brent Yates, Rehab Al-Buraidi, and Brian Kuper presented their independent-study research to the department to close out our spring 2011 colloquium series.
Chris described his independent study this past semester with Jim Feagin on Einstein locality vs quantum nonlocality. Locality refers to the notion that information transfer between two systems can occur only locally when the systems interact, while non-locality refers to the quantum entanglements that can persist long after the systems cease to interact, a notion Einstein considered flawed. Chris' talk presented evidence based on Hardy's theorem in favor of quantum entanglements entitled "Hardy non-locality via few-body fragmentation imaging."
Casey described his physics education research with Mike Loverude over the past three years with a snapshot entitled "Examining Students' Understanding of Lenz's Law and Faraday's Law" and the struggle students have conceptually with magnetic flux and graphical representations.
Brent gave an overview of the electron scattering experiments he's been analyzing in Morty's lab for the past three years. The title of his talk was "Electron impact ionization of argon and krypton." Brent helped develop a special movable source method for collecting background data each run of an experiment, and specialized software to assist in and automate the analysis of the data. This work and their previous studies on neon and xenon have resulted in two publications for Brent.
Rehab gave an overview of her experiments in Morty's lab on low energy electron scattering from the organic molecule furan and in particular the role of spin-exchange excitation of the molecule's lowest-lying triplet state. The title of her talk was "Low energy electron scattering from furan."
Brian described how laser power absorption in the optics of LIGO gravitational-wave detectors can lead to thermal lensing and other pernicious effects. Diffractive optics are a candidate to replace traditional beamsplitters and input couplers in future detectors, and Brian measured and characterized the optical scatter from a diffractive optical coupler. The title of his talk was "Diffractive optics for the next generation of gravitational wave detectors."