Geoffrey Iwata

Measuring the Kerr constant and its temperature dependence in new zero-birefringent materials

Laser light has been proven to be an effective and elegant method of probing sensitive physical systems, providing many seminal, precision methods in experimental physics. These experiments must prove free of systematic errors and be minimally perturbative to the phenomena to be examined. Along these lines, I am researching the properties of zero-birefringent acrylic polymers in a range of temperatures from room temperature down to a couple Kelvin. In exhibiting this unique property of zero-birefringence, these materials do not affect the polarization of light passing through them, even when under stress. Yet no measurements have been made of how their transmission properties may change under high electric field, a consequence called the Kerr Effect. In measuring what is known as the Kerr constant and its temperature dependence to high accuracy, I will provide an important characterization of useful new materials that are to be used in sensitive high-precision physics research.

Message to Sponsor

This Surf research is an important opportunity to develop my academic knowledge and is a starting point of my senior thesis. Moreover, it provides an introduction to independent research projects, and insight of to expect from the field of research that I intend to pursue. Working in a world-class research group will also give me the opportunity to see the amazing opportunities to come. This project will allow me to synthesize both my in-class and previous lab experience to result in the exploration of exciting physics.
  • Major: Physics
  • Mentor: Dmitry Budker, Physics