Physics majors are encouraged to participate in the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program or in a summer internship. One such REU or internship experience can serve as a physics elective course. Often, during an REU or internship a student makes contacts which lead directly to employment or to admission to a graduate program.
What can you accomplish in an REU or internship? In recent years several physics students participated in summer programs. Their stories appear below.
My job over the summer was to design a buncher for a beam line using computer simulations. I was mentored by Dr. Itzik Ben-Itzhak and worked closely with Ben Berry, a graduate student on Itzik’s team, in Kansas State University’s James R. MacDonald Laboratory. When I left, the parts were being ordered so the buncher could be built and tested for eventual use in a beam line.
A beam line is an evacuated tube for carrying an ion beam, equipped with devices for manipulating or measuring the beam. A buncher is a device used in a beam line to force the ions closer together. Such a device is useful when studying the interaction between an ion beam and a second beam or a laser: by bunching the ions, there are more interactions and certain measurements are easier to make. Most bunchers apply an alternating current to the ion beam causing the ions to bunch. The buncher designed this summer for the K-State MacDonald Lab is unique in the method used for bunching. Rather than applying an alternating current to the beam, this buncher uses very fast switches–on the order of nanoseconds–that apply a sudden voltage to the device. This voltage creates an electric field in the beam line that accelerates trailing ions and decelerates leading ions causing them to bunch.
Like most of the other students in my REU group this was my first experience in a lab setting. I was fortunate to have more practice with computer programming than many of the other students, because all the REU projects involved a great deal of computer work. Although my project centered on computer simulation, I also spent time in the lab working with Ben to help prepare the beam lines for the project he was working on over the summer.
The REU provided me with a better understanding of what a career in physics research would involve along with valuable lab experience. It was also an excellent networking opportunity. I enjoyed my experience so much that I applied and have been admitted as a graduate student at Kansas State with a GTA position beginning January ’13.
A junior physics major, Courtney Bosse spent the summer of 2009 working with Sirius XM Radio in New Jersey. Courtney participated in the development and construction of test equipment, as well as accompanying software, whose purpose was the evaluation of the performance of new modulation schemes for a newly launched satellite. In addition, Courtney used the equipment to carry out a survey and mapping of radio reception quality in portions of New Jersey.
Courtney gained some useful insights into the operation of applied engineering in the private sector. In the photo above, Courtney presents her work to Bonaventure faculty and students.
Jacob Donius, a junior physics major, completed an NSF/REU at the University of Idaho during the summer of 2009. The project was related to the reclamation of radioactive substances from nuclear waste sludge.
The particular separation method uses ferromagnetic particles which are coated with ligands that in turn bind to actinides and lanthanides in the sludge. The ferromagnetic particles are added to the sludge and then collected with a magnetic field.
Jacob worked on the production and characterization of the ferromagnetic particles. His mentors at the University of Idaho were Drs. Qiang, Han, and Kaur.
As a junior Physics Major at SBU, Troy Mulholland spent the summer of 2009 at the University of Florida. His NSF/REU internship involved the development and testing of software for the purpose of analyzing the output of the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Troy worked with Dr. Ivan Furic of the University of Florida.
Muons produced by hadron collisions need to be detected and identified, and their properties (such as momentum) recorded. Particularly, muons produced by a collision event have to be distinguished from detections produced by electromagnetic showering. Troy worked on computer algorithms to accomplish this task.
As a senior traditional physics major with a secondary concentration in mathematics, Kevin Miller completed his NSF/REU internship during the summer of 2007 at the University Of Notre Dame. He worked closely with Dr. Margorzata Dobrowolska-Furdyna in her experimental condensed matter physics group at Notre Dame.
In particular, Kevin worked with the ferromagnetic semiconductor GaMnAs, one of the leading candidates for a material which would utilize both the electron’s spin and charge in a memory storage device. Along with taking measurements on the aforementioned semiconductor, his research also included monitoring the grown GaMnAs through the technique of Molecular Beam Epitaxy.
Kevin found his summer research experience to be helpful in that he learned what graduate level research was like and he made connections that he can use in the future. He wrote a research paper, entitled “Ferromagnetic Resonance Measurements on Thin GaMnAs Films,” detailing his work over the summer of 2007.
Amalie Donius, a senior traditional physics major with a second major in Spanish and minor in mathematics, completed her REU at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in the summer of 2007. For her research in condensed matter physics, she worked with Dr. Arthur Hebard and Sefaattin Tongay fabricating and measuring Schottky devices.
The Schottky barriers were found to exhibit negative magnetocapacitance. This was shown in the research on n-type silicon doped gallium arsenide Schottky devices. The Schottky devices consisted of a gold electrode and an ohmic contact, both of which were deposited in a vacuum deposition system.
This project is titled “Negative Magnetocapacitance in Schottky Barriers” and further data is being taken for a better understanding.
Amalie found the experience to be enjoyable and beneficial. She made useful, professional contacts and obtained a better understanding of graduate level research.
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