Houghton Students Conduct Nuclear Physics Experiment at Laboratory of Laser Energetics

September 15, 2023

Four students from the Physics and Applied Physics majors had the opportunity to conduct a nuclear physics experiment at the Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester this summer. The experiment, proposed, designed and carried out by the Houghton team with collaborators from SUNY Geneseo, was conducted with the Multi-Terawatt (MTW) Laser, one of the highest power lasers in the world.

During the experiment, Professor of Physics Mark Yuly and his students worked with the research team to use the MTW laser to accelerate particles. A custom-made detector, designed and built by Houghton students, allowed the researchers to use the laser as a particle accelerator to create a beam of deuteron particles. This new technique opens doors for new and interesting applications.   The Houghton team studied the nuclear reactions caused by the deuteron beam striking a lithium target.

“This is a really important experience for students,” said Yuly. “They are working with world-class researchers while making contacts and doing important work that will help them in their future careers as scientists and engineers. Most graduate programs and many employers are looking for just this type of experience as a deciding factor in which students to accept.”

The opportunity for students to collaborate with faculty beyond the traditional classroom is a hallmark of Houghton’s Physics programs, in which students work for course credit with a faculty advisor on a long-term research project, starting their sophomore year until they graduate. This particular research project was made possible through a subaward from the Department of Energy. Yuly serves as a co-principal investigator on the grant. In the planning stages of the experiment, students also participated in activities with other faculty-student research teams in the Shannon Summer Research Institute.

Discover Houghton’s Physics programs, where you can learn from faculty making significant contributions to the field, and students have the opportunity for hands-on research and internship opportunities that have led to employment opportunities for recent graduates before graduation.

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