Research

Welcome to my research page! Here you will find information on the research projects I have participated in in the past, as well as updates on my current research projects. This page includes finished, presentable products from the labs I have worked in such as posters, write-ups, and papers. So far I have participated in two labs at my undergraduate institution, and I am currently working in a neutrino detector lab as a post-bachelor.

POCAR LAB

August 2019 - Present

Since August 2019 I have been working as a lab assistant in the Pocar Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Pocar Lab is a neutrino detector lab that works on detecting weakly interacting particles such as neutrinos and dark matter. My role in the lab mostly consists of working with a computer to run simulations for the Liquid Xenon System Experiment. I am very happy working here, it's challenging and interesting, and I'm really glad that I get to think about physics everyday for a living.

What We Do in the Lab

One of the overall goals of the lab is to detect a neutrinoless double beta decay. Currently this is only a theoretical process of elementary particles, however detection of this process would require changes to the current setup of the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The Liquid Xenon System experiment contributes to this goal by testing detectors that could be used to find a neutrinoless double beta decay.

My Role in the Lab

The task I have been given in the lab is to run simulations of the setup for the Liquid Xenon System and analyze the results. I spend a lot of my time programming which I have been really enjoying and learning a lot about. I also spend some time reading, doing research, and learning about the physics relevant to my work as well as learning about programming in Python. The program that I run simulates photons starting at a point source, traveling through a cell filled with Liquid Xenon, and finally hitting a detector. This is only part of the process that occurs in the experiment conducted in real life, however it's an important part of the process because a neutrinoless double beta decay would be found by a detector absorbing photons.

Exciting Stuff to Come

Currently I have been running experiments with the simulation in order to find information about the optical and surface parameters of the materials we use in the setup. So far, I have been conducting an investigation on the refractive indices of the two main materials the photons travel through, and soon I'm going to be looking at the reflectivity of another material we are using. I expect to be completing a write up on the refractive index tests in the very near future.

Additionally, this research position has given me a whole new set of challenges, including realizing all of the gaps I still have in my knowledge despite having a degree in physics. I have had to learn a lot of new stuff including coding in Python, writing Bash scripts, as well as reviewing things I have already learned such as optics. The good news is that this gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned on my blog and my notes page.

SMITH LAB

January 2018 - November 2018

During the summer of 2018, I completed my second research project as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College. Throughout this time I worked with Spencer Smith in his lab at Mount Holyoke College where we used mathematical and computational methods to explore the behavior of fluid systems. There are a few different projects that are conducted in his lab, which I spent some time exploring during the Spring 2018 semester before beginning my project over the summer.

During the Spring 2018 semester I also took a course taught by Spencer Smith titled "Themes in Physics and Art". In this course we explored the intersection between physics and art. This involved examining the role that physics plays in artistic media and composition, as well as discussing how physics can be an inspiration for art. One of the units of this course had us studying the art of paper marbling, and how this particular artistic medium is dictated by physics, particularly fluid dynamics. During this unit, Spencer invited a couple of professional paper marblers based in Amherst MA to come to our class and give a demonstration on paper marbling. Everyone in the class was fascinated by the process of paper marbling, as well as the beautiful patterns that emerged from it.

Feeling inspired by this course, I decided that I wanted to use my time during the summer to study the intersection between physics and art more in depth. After discussing this with Spencer, he came to me with the perfect project to meet this goal: the paper marblers who gave the demo for our class showed an interest in working with us to study the physics behind the art of paper marbling. They would even allow us to come to their studio to conduct experiments on paper marbling. This proposal was really exciting to me, so I agreed to participate in this project.

While taking the physics and art course, I also developed an interest in fractals. When observing the images created from paper marbling, I noticed that they appear to have similar properties to some fractal images, particularly those that exhibit self-repeating patterns. This inspire me to incorporate fractals into my study and analyze the marbling images by determining if they have any fractal properties.

Throughout the summer, Spencer and I worked on developing a program that analyzed the fractal properties of an image, particularly the fractal dimension, that would be used on the images we created from paper marbling. Additionally, we spent two days in the paper marbling studio creating images by experimenting with the viscosity of the solution the paints are dripped on to, and the number of times we dragged the comb through the paints. The result was a collection of beautiful marbling images, most of which we ran through the program that was written to analyze them. The result from our analysis of the images was the conclusion that the images created from paper marbling do have fractal properties to them.

To present these findings, I created a research poster which I presented at the Mount Holyoke College SPS Summer Research Poster Session in September 2018. This project also led me to the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Conference which took place in Atlanta Georgia in November 2018. At this conference I presented my poster at the technical poster session and attended some talks on various applications of fluid dynamics.

I have shared this poster below, which goes over some background information on paper marbling and fractals, then discusses the theory behind the project which was inspired by a paper cited in the poster. It also outlines the processes we used to create the marbling images, and analyze the images using a program written in Python. Finally, it discusses the results of the project as well as possibilities for future work.

A full-sized version of the poster can be viewed by clicking on the image.

Fractal Measures

For more information on the professional paper marblers we worked with, please visit Chena River Marblers on their website by clicking here

ARANGO LAB

July 2017 - December 2017

Throughout the summer of 2017 I had my first experience participating in research in a physics lab. That summer I worked with Professor Alexi Arango in his lab at Mount Holyoke College, where we attempt to create devices that generate electricity using solar energy. The ultimate goal of this lab is to construct efficient tandem cells, which would lead to large-area, lightweight, flexible solar cells. Conducting research in this lab was a lot of fun and an excellent first experience in a physics lab. It was also very rewarding since it contributes to the increasingly important task of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

The summer I was working there we focused on experimenting with lead-sulfide (PbS) quantum dots as an absorption layer for the devices we constructed. Quantum dots are basically very small semiconductor particles that are only several nanometers in diameter. Lead-sulfide quantum dots are an attractive material for creating solar cells because they have a low fabrication cost. Throughout the summer, I worked with a few other students to familiarize ourselves with the process of creating PbS quantum dot solar cells by taking part in experiments on each of the different steps in fabricating them, collecting data on absorption, open-circuit voltage and efficiency, and understanding what the data we collected was telling us about these devices. By the end of the summer, all of us had chosen a part of the fabrication process of these solar cells to conduct our own experiment on and present our findings in a poster.

The part of the process I chose to focus on was th ligand exchange treatment for the PbS absorption layer of the cells. The goal of my experiment was to try out a different chemical for the ligand exchange treatment than the one we had been using for most of the summer.

The poster I have shared below begins by providing details on the role that the ligand exchange treatment plays in the function of the solar cell. It then presents the purpose of conducting this experiment, the process of the experiment, and the results. Finally, it discusses the possibilities for future experiments. I presented this poster at the Mount Holyoke College SPS Summer Research Poster Session in October 2017.

A full-sized version of the poster can be found by clicking on the image.

Ligand Exchange Treatments

For more information on the Arango Lab please visit the website by clicking here