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$300,000 science grant benefits Ripon summer research students

Brett Barwick, associate professor of physics and the Harrison E. Farnsworth 1918 Chair in Physics at Ripon College, received a $301,261, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Fundamental Lectron-Photon Interactions. The grant is in support of providing equipment and monies for several summer research students.

Undergraduate students are sometimes (mistakenly) seen as drilling down on received knowledge, but these students have the opportunity to develop new knowledge. This research experience will open doors to graduate schools and the world of technology entrepreneurs. Moreover, opportunities for hands-on research will prepare students to initiate their own investigations and applications.

“Over the last decade, a new research field has developed by combining electron microscopy with ultrafast lasers,” Dr. Barwick wrote in his proposal. “Now ‘ultrafast electron microscopes’ can be used to make movies of nanoscale (microscopic) processes that occur too quickly to observe with standard electron microscopes.”

Dr. Barwick explained that the project will focus primarily on fundamental quantum mechanical phenomena and on angular momentum from light to electrons. This project team also will explore how light can be used to compress electron pulses in time from picoseconds to tens of femptoseconds and to shape the spatial properties of electron beams.

Research today crosses disciplinary boundaries. For example, the Ripon experiments also will advance the technical capabilities of electron microscopes and have an impact on imaging and quantum control techniques that are needed for physics, chemistry and biology, Dr. Barwick said.