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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nebraska student travels to Kansas State University to conduct summer research in AMO Physics

Kurtis setting up his
research experiment.
   Kurtis Borne really enjoys the field of laser optics so when the opportunity to conduct further hands-on laser research as a participant in the Kansas State University (KSU) Atomic Molecular and Optics (AMO) Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program presented itself, he immediately applied. The main reason Kurtis wanted a research experience in AMO physics was because he had already spent a lot of time studying its theoretical principles while attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
   Kurtis is a native of Omaha, NE and is currently majoring in Physics and German with a minor in Mathematics.  He is also a Physics Lab Instructor and the Society of Physics Student Vice President at UNO.
  During this past summer, Kurtis worked in the James R. Macdonald Laboratory at KSU with Dr. Artem Rudenko and Dr. Daniel Rolles on a project titled “Visualizing ultrafast molecular motion in interferometric pump-probe experiments.”  The purpose of the project was to build a new interferometric setup for pump-probe experiments and to analyze the fragmentation patterns of cyclohexadiene (C6H8) from single pulse laser interaction.  When asked what he hoped to find as a result of his research, Kurtis said “The molecule I work with has been studied for decades. I hope that I can identify patterns that have already been confirmed, so we can continue on to more advanced methods of studying this molecule.”
The above diagram is a Dalitz Plot used to read
the energy distributions of three fragments 
  So far, his research has produced various fragmentation patterns of the molecule; and as a result, he has been able to conduct further studies of the associated geometry and energy that has been detected.  As for the impact of his research, Kurtis said it will assist the researchers at Kansas State University with applying the newly equipped delay stage for more accurate pump-probe experiments that test the dynamics of this molecule as well as other molecules.
  As for his personal learning experience, Kurtis said this AMO REU has taught him how to assemble and program optical equipment, to utilize the theory behind the experiments and to implement new methods for analyzing data. Overall, Kurtis enjoyed this opportunity and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in studying experimental AMO Physics, but added it requires a lot of time management, patience as well as a willingness to learn new skills.
   When he returns to his home institution, Kurtis plans to continue studying AMO Physics, and he wants to shadow individuals who work in laser induced-ultracold atom trapping so he can draw comparisons to his research.

Funding for this Research Experience was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.