Research
projects involving undergraduate students

Dr.
Mellita Caragiu

I intend to work in three different, but complementary areas with the undergraduate students, so that I give students the opportunity to try out and decide upon which activity suits them best – experimental, theoretical, or computational physics.

__
__Experimental
research involving undergraduate students:

** Updating the
optics lab**
so that experimental work can be carried out at an appropriate level.
The
purpose will be to give students an opportunity to observe optical
phenomena
that are less intuitive. The students will have to set up the
experiments
themselves, therefore getting a correct understanding of how various
optical
components work. The experiments will use laser radiation and will
explore
concepts in image formation, spatial filtering, holography and
speckles.
This practical activity can be corroborated with a design of optical
components
using computer software commercially available. By trying to design a
particular
optical system that has a certain effect on light propagation, students
deepen the theoretical knowledge acquired in class about image
formation.

*Students who got involved: Heather Buehler, Nathan Baxter
(independent study), and the students enrolled in the Optics course
Robbie Merrill, Debie Cox, Courtney Buckey
*

*
*→
Robbie’s “Bear with a fish”
object became
one of the nicest transmission holograms that we’ve obtained!

*
Jason Field - arranged the display cabinet at the entrance of Meyer
Building, showing
three reflection holograms, and one transmission hologram;*

*
Angela Phares and Brock Prater
*

See some pictures of the
students working on the holographic set-up!

Study of colloidal crystals: in the same area of experimental research students are given the opportunity to explore other topics of interest, such as the formation of colloidal crystals (polystyrene hydrophobic microspheres

Students involved: Courtney Buckey, Robert Merrill, Tom Manuszak, Christina Leidel, Matthew Katschke, Nathan Baxter, Tyler Betts

Link to the power point
presentation about colloidal crystals.

The results of this research have been communicated at several physics meetings - see a list
of them.

The theoretical

Link to the power point
presentation of the "pendulum problem".

:
more precisely, the investigation of the actual position of adsorbed
atoms
on
various surfaces.

Solid state computational physics

Starting in the early 1970s, there has been a continuous interest in
the field of surface physics. The interest is legitimate due to the
role
that surfaces play in technological applications and much improvement
is
expected once the processes that occur at surfaces are understood.

It is for the purpose of a detailed knowledge of the interfaces at
the atomic level, that the LEED (Low Energy Electron Diffraction)
technique
is extensively used in the study of solid surfaces. The technique has
the
capability to provide the coordinates of the surface atoms,
facilitating
the understanding of the interaction between these atoms and,
ultimately,
helping one explain and predict the macroscopic properties of the
materials.

In principle, the LEED technique consists of a diffraction experiment
that provides the raw experimental data. The data is consequently
analyzed,
so that the information about the atomic coordinates is extracted. The
way that structural information is obtained is by a comparison between
the experimental data and calculated, theoretical data that correspond
to models of the surface under study imagined by the analyst. The
theoretical
data are a result of complicated computations that use computer
programs
developed through the efforts of many physicists.

Working on a problem such as resolving the structural parameters of
solid surfaces gives the undergraduate students the opportunity of
learning
a lot about solid state physics, with emphasis on surface aspects, as
well
as the satisfaction of being able to obtain new results, sometimes
unpredictable.
The computer programs to be used require some computer knowledge that
is
usually acquired during the freshman year by most students.

I. K adsorbed on clean Pb(111), forming a

- results presented in a poster at the OSAPS Meeting,

**
Low-Energy
Electron Diffraction Study of the Adsorption Geometry for Pb(111)-(√
3x√
3)R30°-K**

Authors:

II. and the clean, stepped surface Cu(511),

- preliminary results presented in a poster at the OSAPS Spring Meeting, Eastern Michigan University, May 4-5, 2007:

Authors:

Student involved: Christopher Lemon

→ Chris presenting the poster at the OSAPS meeting, May 2007

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