Development of a Laser-Driven Mercury Magnetometer for Quantum Sensing of New Physics
Microbiology Major (College of Arts & Sciences)
Chen-Yu Liu (College of Arts & Sciences)
We are developing a magnetometer system, using an ultraviolet laser to optically pump mercury atoms in vapor cells. Because of its unique atomic and nuclear structure, the laser-polarized mercury-199 atoms can be made sensitive to magnetic fields as small as Femto-Tesla (i.e, ten trillionth the size of the earth magnetic fields). With such sensitive magnetic sensors, we can design experiments to test quantum physics and search for new particles and new interactions that no one has seen before. One such interaction we are searching for is the time-reversal violating phenomena that lead to a lopsided shape of neutrons. Students will learn to operate a laser, produce polarized atoms, and perform spin precession measurements. Students will also learn how to program software and build electronics to control instruments and perform data-taking and analysis using computers. Our research lab is located at the Multidisciplinary Engineering and Sciences Hall (MESH) on the north side of the campus across the stadium. We welcome highly motivated students to join our lab; we will show you how little atoms spin in unison can be used to answer long-standing questions about the origin of the universe.
Technology or Computational Component
Our research activities involve using the following computational components: 1. write computer programs to control instruments and automate data-taking 2. write analysis codes (in python, C++, or matlab) to perform data reduction. 3. perform simulations using either Monte-Carlo techniques or finite-element analysis to optimize the design of the experiment or understand the data. 4. build electronics (using discrete components) to amplify signals from photo-sensors and control laser optics. Students will get involved in any of these components throughout the stage of the project. In addition to the faculty, the student will work closely together with a postdoc fellow or a senior graduate student in the group.