Rank Prize Funds – a view from Conor

Conor, a UoM 4th year undergraduate has spent the summer working in the lab (see here for details). He has been kind enough to describe working on a long summer project in the group:

This summer, I spent ten weeks designing, building, and testing a terahertz time domain spectroscopy system that utilised optical laser diodes rather than the standard technique involving femtosecond lasers.  The aim of this system was that it would be significantly cheaper while still retaining the quality of previous systems.

These ten weeks was a huge opportunity to learn in depth about experimental physics and all the struggles and challenges behind the scenes of every journal paper.  Dealing with limited resources, liaising with other members of the PSI, and deciding how to approach and deal with various obstacles to your progress were all vital experiences I went through that helped me develop an understanding of the processes involved in taking on real physical research.

In terms of the experiment itself, I handled the taking of measurements by using electronics and analysed data computationally, as well as designing a number of custom parts for use in the experiment.  I was also able to use relatively low-tech skills I hadn’t expected would be necessary, such as soldering, to build parts, while simultaneously getting to grips with the electron beam lithography technique used to print antennas on semiconductor substrates.

If you are interested in this research or want to know more about research in the group, please contact Patrick.