Physics, math major collaborates with professor on laser research
RELEASED: Sept. 11, 2008
Gruenewald explains that lasers "have contributed greatly to fields like biomedicine, telecommunications and many other areas of research." The pulses created from these types of lasers are on the order of femtoseconds (one billionth of one millionth of a second) in duration. These pulses are short enough to study the dynamics of extremely fast events.
A laser made entirely out of glass fiber is more mechanically stable than many alternatives simply because there are no bulk components (such as mirrors or prisms) to bump out of alignment, Neiser says. Since the fiber itself can be coiled, fiber lasers do not take up a lot of real estate, which makes them more attractive for field use or in a clinical setting.
Gruenewald and Neiser plan to continue their research this semester. By the end of his eight weeks spent helping to design this laser with Neiser, Gruenewald says that their laser's performance "suggested that additional changes made in the initial design" could lead to their desired result.
Neiser adds, "John and I made good progress over the first eight weeks of the project, and I'm pleased that our collaboration will continue into the fall. John has really matured as a research scientist—he's asking the sorts of questions and following the leads from experiments the way a graduate student must."
Gruenewald, a physics and mathematics double major, plans to pursue a career in either engineering or applied physics. He is the president of the Centre College Society of Physics Students and plays violin as a part of Centre's music program.
"I'm very fortunate to have had this opportunity to conduct this type of research at Centre," he says. "The experience has provided me with an understanding of research that goes beyond the classroom setting."
Gruenewald offers some advice for high school and college students: "I would encourage anyone to get involved in some sort of research at some point during their college career."
Collaborative research is a key part of Centre's academic commitment. The talented students who enroll at Centre often are eager for challenges beyond traditional classroom discussion and testing. These students are ready for new levels of discovery, and the College provides the opportunity for them to become partners in learning with faculty members.
For more information on student research opportunities at Centre, click here.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges, and Forbes magazine ranks Centre No. 13 in the nation among all colleges and universities. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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