A common theme of my past research experience in physics is the use of experimental atomic physics techniques to perform precise measurements for a a wide variety of applications, especially answering fundamental physics questions.
Quantum sensors for dark matter and other applications (Maryland)
Measurement of the Electron Electric Dipole Moment in ThO (Harvard)
This was the focus of my PhD dissertation research, which can be downloaded here: Progress towards an improved measurement of the electric dipole moment of the electron.
Despite the immense experimental and theoretical success of the Standard Model, several crucial questions remain. One of the most puzzling is explaining the current abundance of matter over antimatter, the so-called baryon asymmetry problem. According to the Sakharov conditions, baryogenesis requires a sufficient amount of charge-parity (CP) violation, which we have only found in limited amounts in nature. A non-zero electric dipole moment (EDM) would violate CP, and thus constitute a powerful probe for new physics.
The ACME EDM (Advanced Cold Molecule Electron EDM) experiment utilizes the state-of-the-art AMO methods to perform a precise measurement of the electron EDM. The apparatus consists of a cryogenic buffer gas cooled beam (CBGB) of thorium monoxide (ThO). Various techniques are used to transfer as many molecules as possible into the EDM-sensitive -electronic state, where we perform a spin precession measurement. The molecules are prepared into a superposition of states, which precesses as it goes through applied electric and magnetic fields in the interaction region. The strong internal electric field inside ThO amplifies the effective field experience by the electron, boosting the sensitivity of our measurement by many orders of magnitude. The phase of the precessed state is then measured, from which we can deduce the contribution from the electron EDM.
In 2014, the ACME I experiment improved the previous upper limit on the eEDM by an order of magnitude. I joined the experiment in 2015. In 2018, the ACME II experiment successfully improved upon this limit by another order of magnitude: . I made important contributions towards this result, specifically in the areas of data acquisition, analysis, and experimental control. Since then, the ACME III campaign has begun, aiming to further improve upon this result. Various upgrades to the experiment have been researched and demonstrated. I was the lead author on an improved measurement of the EDM-sensitive H-state radiative lifetime, which found its value to be 4.2 (5) ms, several times longer than the precession time used in ACME II. This opened the way to increase by several times, significantly improving the sensitivity. I also designed improved collection optics for the experiment, upgraded the data acquisition and experimental control systems, and designed magnetic field coils for the new experiment apparatus, in addition to contributing various other development efforts. Overall, the ACME III experiment is projected to improve upon ACME II sensitivity by at least an order of magnitude () while also reducing known systematic errors by a commensurate amount. More information can be found at www.electronedm.info.
Search for Long Range Spin-Spin Interactions (Amherst)
Details on this research can be found in my senior bachelor’s thesis, In Search of New Geometries for Probing Spin-Spin Interactions.
The great success of the Standard Model was partially due to the discoveries of
the gauge bosons (W, Z, and gluons) which mediate the weak and strong interactions. Naturally, searches for physics beyond the Standard Model (BSM) have included extensive experimental and theoretical investigations into the existence of additional gauge bosons – both the spin-1 (vector boson) variety as well as their more exotic cousins (scalar and pseudoscalar bosons). The existence of some of these new particles would have potential to explain dark matter or the strong CP problem.
In the Hunter Lab at Amherst College, we use a cesium-mercury co-magnetometer in a Bell-Bloom configuration to look for evidence of certain interactions mediated by BSM vector bosons, specifically long-range spin-spin interactions (LRSSIs). The apparatus consists of an Hg vapor cell sandwiched between two Cs vapor cells immersed in a magnetic field. The atoms in the cells are pumped to a coherent spin state by optically pumping them with circularly polarized modulated light. Afterwards, the pump laser is turned off and a weaker laser tuned several GHz off resonance is used to probe the frequency of the spin precession via detection of Faraday rotation. The apparatus is mounted on a rotating table to allow for different orientations of the spin-polarized atoms. If LRSSIs existed, then the spin-polarized electrons inside the Earth would perturb the spins in the lab apparatus.
This technique of using polarized geoelectrons to look for LRSSIs was pioneered by Larry Hunter in 2013. This technique also allowed experimental bounds to be set for the first time on a variety of velocity-dependent LRSSIs. I spent time during my sophomore and junior years at Amherst assisting Prof. Hunter with these calculations.
During my senior year at Amherst, I did work on testing upgrades on the apparatus to reduce systematics from AC Stark shifts. These upgrades are expected to increase sensitivity to LRSSIs by an order of magnitude. For more information, contact Larry Hunter at Amherst College.