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Christian P

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Arizona

Expertise

Physics, Quantum Physics, Quantum computers, Quantum information theory, information theory, quantum optics, optics, electromagnetism, Lasers, Gravitational Wave Astronomy, LIGO, Feedback and Control Systems

Bio

Hi! My name is Christian and I'm a 4th year PhD student at the University of Arizona. I am an experimentalist specializing in quantum physics and optics. My research involves making very precise measurements of the position of very small mirrors by reflecting laser light off of them. By making more and more precise measurements, we're progressing towards seeing interesting quantum effects in these systems, such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the existence of the zero-point energy or "ground" motional state of the mirror, and creating “entanglement” between the light that measures the mirror and the mirror itself, or between two different mirrors. I first became interested in this research by working at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), which utilizes similar experimental techniques to measure tiny ripples in space time- known as gravitational waves- from colliding black holes and neutron stars. LIGO has progressed to the point where their measurement precision – which is around 10^5 times smaller than the diameter of a proton – is starting to be limited by the laws of quantum mechanics. We’d like to use this research to improve experiments like LIGO, make new experiments to look at other interesting physics (such as searching for dark matter or ruling out special formulations of quantum mechanics), and build technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics (quantum sensors and quantum computers). I’ve been interest in teaching started after working for Peninsula Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area teaching middle school students, and I have continued teaching while as an undergraduate and graduate student. Throughout my time in school, I was fortunate to have a number of mentors who pushed me and satisfied my curiosity. In my free time, I enjoy being outside and exploring the deserts and mountains of Arizona, whether that’s by rock climbing, mountain biking, or skiing.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Measurement in quantum mechanics versus classical mechanics

Measurement in quantum mechanics is fundamentally different than in classical mechanics, and there is ongoing research to this day to test theories that describe what happens exactly when a measurement is made in quantum mechanics. This project could be focused on giving a review of different theories of measurement in quantum mechanics and how we can experimentally test them, or also include quantitatively exploring the differences in predictions for measurements on a quantum systems versus what we would expect classically.

Lasers

Learn the basics of how lasers work! After studying the basics of optical resonators and gain media on general a general laser system, you can learn more about a particular type of laser (such as a semiconductor or helium-neon laser) and explain what makes it tick, and what its particular advantages and disadvantages are.

Coding skills

Python, Java, Mathematica, Matlab, Labview

Languages I know

None

Teaching experience

In high school, I volunteered at Peninsula Bridge (https://www.peninsulabridge.org) for two summers, teaching middle schoolers math and science, including designing my own science lessons and demonstrations. As an undergraduate, I was a tutor in the Physics Department and mentored students one-on-one with courses they were struggling with. I was also a teaching assistant (TA) for a few classes, which involved holding help sessions. In graduate school, I have been a TA for both undergraduate and graduate courses. My responsibilities for the undergraduate course included holding my own help sessions and working with students on an individual level, while the graduate course was a lab course in which I worked with small groups of students (1-3) to guide them and help them understand the experiment that week. This past summer, I helped mentor two undergraduate students working in our lab to complete summer research projects, which they will present at a conference this year.

Credentials

Work experience

University of Arizona (2018 - Current)
Graduate Student
Amherst College (2016 - 2018)
Undergraduate Researcher
Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) (2017 - 2017)
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow

Education

Amherst College
BA Bachelor of Arts (2018)
Physics
University of Arizona
MS Master of Science
Optical Sciences
University of Arizona
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Optical Sciences

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