Physics Department Facilities
UW-L physics labs house modern equipment and sophisticated instruments, including computer-assisted data acquisition and analysis software. The introductory physics lab has 14 computer-interface stations designed for two students per station. The general physics laboratory, mainly used by physics and engineering majors, has recently been renovated with the latest in computer-interfaced lab equipment. The advanced labs include a fully-equipped electronics laboratory, and state-of-the-art optics and modern physics labs. The laboratories are all taught by professors and class sizes are small so there is plenty of opportunity for interaction with faculty.
In addition to University and Cowley Hall general access computer labs, the department houses a computational lab which houses 11 PCs. These machines offer students access to standard office software packages, Mathematica, Matlab, and other physics-related programs. Additionally, faculty operate special purpose machines which are available to students involved in research projects.
The Far-Infrared Laser Laboratory
Optically Pumped Molecular Lasers
Optically pumped molecular lasers have become a valuable source of discrete, coherent far-infrared (FIR) radiation and are used in a number of spectroscopic fields. In our laboratory, a 2-m (6.5-foot) long carbon dioxide (CO2) laser optically pumps (or excites) a 2-m long FIR optical cavity containing the laser medium. The advantage for using an optically pumped molecular laser is its ability to produce thousands of laser emissions in the FIR. The focus of this research is to discover new laser emissions and to use these new lines in laser Stark spectroscopy.
Far-Infrared Laser Stark Spectroscopy
In laser Stark spectroscopy, a 4-meter (13-foot) long direct discharge gas laser is used to record high-resolution Stark spectra of molecules in the FIR region. This FIR laser provides seven discrete wavelengths, ranging from 108 to 337 um, in a region experimentally difficult to explore. FIR laser emissions are generated using the source gases hydrogen cyanide (HCN), deuterium cyanide (DCN), and water vapor (H2O and D2O) as lasing media.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in optics, electrical/optical engineering or atomic/molecular physics, the FIR laser laboratory provides excellent hands-on learning opportunities. For additional information regarding research opportunities in optics, please e-mail Dr. Gubbi Sudhakaran, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UW-L planetarium features a Spitz A3-P star projector in a 24-foot diameter hemispherical dome. Slide projectors, special effects projectors, a video projector and sound system add another dimension to classroom presentations. The planetarium also sponsors a series of six monthly programs during the school year for the general public on Monday evenings. Student assistants help prepare, produce and present these programs on astronomical topics.
Several telescopes are also available for classroom use in astronomy and astrophysics courses. The largest is a 12-inch Meade LX-200 Schmidt-Cassegrain scope with microcomputer chips which allow it to be controlled from a laptop computer. This scope can automatically acquire objects after initial set-up. A Santa Barbara ST-6 CCD digital camera can be attached to the scope for digital imaging of objects in space.