Physics

Hands-on Research

Dr. Trantham & Eric Rybacki working on a Mott Electron PolarimeterFaculty mentored student research activities provide students a "hands-on" chance to apply what they have learned in the classroom.  These projects are often tailor made to a student's interest.  Research projects can be designed to fit any student's academic level.  For example, projects undertaken by freshmen and sophomores will be more exploratory in nature, while senior level projects will require more critical thinking skills to solve a problem.

The department currently has a variety of active projects.  To become involved with a project (which looks good on a resume!) contact a faculty mentor.

Case Study: Spin-Polarized Electron Physics

Students workingThis project uses beams of spin polarized electrons to study fundamental interactions.  Typically, we scatter beams of electrons from a various atomic or molecular targets.  By studying information after the collision, on can learn something about electronic interaction.  Electron spin allows physicists to probe many unique interactions, which are different than standard Couloumbic, electrostatic interactions.  The spin of the electron gives it a magnetic dipole character, like a little magnet.  Types of experiments that electron spin can probe are:  1) atomic collisions in which the spin can couple with the target angular momentum, and  2) special interactions with chiral molecules, of which biologically active molecules are a subset.

Presently, our laboratory is collaborating with UNL to make precision comparative studies between two different classes of electron polarimetry:  Optical polarimetry and Mott polarimetry.  Optical polarimetry studies the degree of optical polarization from the resultant fluorescence after the collision, while Mott polarimetry relies on asymmetric scattering from thin gold foils.

For more information, contact Ken Trantham.

Learn more about Physics research activities and the opportunities it presents. Download the PDF