Blum ’10 Presents Physics Research – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Blum ’10 Presents Physics Research

This May, Tyler Blum ’10, recent recipient of an American Physical Society travel grant, will present the results of a two year-long summer research project at the 41st annual meeting of the Division of Atomic and Molecular Physics (DAMOP) of the American Society of Physics (APS) in Houston, Texas. The meeting is held jointly with the Division of Atomic Molecular and Photon Interactions (DAMPhi) of the Canadian Association of Physicists.  Blum will present data and progress made in understanding microscopic optical trap loading.

“This conference is a step in my development as a contributor to the scientific community,” says Blum. “Not only am I excited to present on the continuing work in the lab, but the DAMOP conference brings together leaders in the field of atomic and molecular physics, optics and photonics. Interacting with professors, graduate students and even other undergraduates will allow me to foster connections as I look to continue my education and prepare for a career in academia.”

Blum’s research, made possible by the support of the Office of the Provost was conducted with Assistant Professor of Physics Pasad Kulatunga. Normally, atoms fly around space at high velocities, but Kulatunga and Blum use a combination of intense light and light tuned to very specific frequencies to confine relatively few atoms in a very small, all-optical microscopic trap close to absolute zero. Traps of this type are being used to investigate phenomenon at very low temperatures.

“At the moment, we are in the process of quantifying the temperature, size, and dynamics within our dipole trap,” explains Blum. “Future plans involve multiple traps with implications in the field of quantum computing.”

Kulatunga notes that Blum’s work is important because it finds applications in the area of precision measurements and neutral atom quantum computing.  “It will help elucidate the quantum mechanical behavior of localized ultra-cold particles in strong optical fields,” he says.

Blum views his undergraduate experience as the beginning of his research career that offers him real work experience of working in a lab. “There is always more work to be done, and numerous occasions where events do not transpire according to plan, but these difficulties make the arrival of meaningful results an even more rewarding achievement. The experience has taught me invaluable lessons in how to better anticipate problems and solve them when they arise.”

Blum is a double major in physics and geoscience and serves as a teaching fellow for the Geoscience department. He is considering astrophysics as a possible direction for graduate-level research, particularly the applications of atomic and molecular physics.