Monday, November 15, 2021

Nine Physics and Astronomy students presented posters at the Fall Undergraduate Research Festival (FURF) Nov. 10 at the University Capitol Centre.

The Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates hosted FURF, which showcased visual presentations focusing on the research and creative work performed by undergraduates at the University of Iowa. Presenters work in over 40 different departments and major in over 35 different disciplines, representing a broad range of sciences, arts, and humanities.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy held a poster contest for its majors presenting at FURF, awarding $100 prizes to Zachary Vig and Hank Hammer.

Physics and Astronomy students presenting posters are listed below with their faculty mentor, poster title, and abstract.

Cole Dorman

Cole Dorman with David Miles
David Miles and Cole Dorman

Majors: Astronomy and Physics

Mentor: Dr. David Miles (Physics & Astronomy)

The Development of the MAGIC Magnetic Screening Apparatus

MAGIC is a magnetometer instrument for the TRACERS spacecraft that will take high precision measurements off the Sun's magnetic field. The measurements are subject to interference from the spacecraft so we estimate required noise levels and sensitivity based on TRACERS stray magnetic field requirements. Based on this, we developed an apparatus evaluating the current hardware for such requirements. We tested its performance using known magnetic sources and are developing a test plan to ensure it can be used reliably by engineering technicians to screen components while building subsystems for the TRACERS spacecraft. Based on preliminary results, we are finalizing the prototype and the testing procedure which will be released through configuration control.

Joshua Doucette

Doucette and Prineas
Prof. John Prineas judges Joshua Doucette's poster at FURF.

Majors: Physics / Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. Usha Mallik (Physics & Astronomy)

Search for Dark Matter in mono-H(bb) channel with the ATLAS detector

The analysis of this study is based on the Two Higgs Doublet Model (2HDM), a Beyond Standard Model (BSM) theory, which is a part of the Higgs portal models. The 2HDM model predicts dark matter (DM) production in association with a Standard Model (SM) Higgs boson, known as the mono-H(bb) channel. The mono-H(bb) analysis targets final states with large missing transverse energy (MET) (due to the undetected DM particles), and two b-quarks from the Higgs decay. The data is binned into multiple MET regions to be sensitive to a wide range of mass choices of the benchmark models. This study compares significance between the current MET binning choice and different MET binning settings with the intention of optimizing the MET binnings used in the mono-H (bb) framework. Data from Monte Carlo simulation must be compared to data taken from the ATLAS detector at the LHC. Thus to be complete, a presentation of the front-end electronics to be used in the new silicon based inner tracker for ATLAS will be shown in addition to the findings of this study. This study has not been performed before and indicates if the MET binning choices are optimized.

Will Golay

Will Golay at FURF
Will Golay

Majors: Astronomy/Physics

Mentors: Drs. Robert Mutel, Caroline Roberts (Physics & Astronomy)

Spectroscopic Instrumentation for Small Optical Telescopes

 High quality spectrometers are a noticeably absent feature from small, optical research telescopes. We propose two designs, one that can image very dim sources, and another that is restricted to brighter sources but provides much higher resolution. The first design is called a grism, or grating-prism spectrometer, and is constructed by placing five optical elements in-line held together by a 3D-printed housing, which can easily fit inside an extended filter wheel. The second design utilizes a multimode optical fiber pickoff to redirect light from the telescope to a commercial spectrometer, capable of high resolution across the entire optical band. The multimode fiber allows for spectroscopic sampling of 19 fields simultaneously, including non-point sources, such as galaxies and nebulae. The pickoff is easily installed in an already-present spacer, making integration simple and non-intrusive. These designs are currently being tested and implemented on the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Van Allen Observatories, including the Gemini Telescope at the Iowa Robotic Observatory in Sonoita, AZ. These instruments are easy to use, capable of producing research-grade data, and available to all undergraduate astronomy lab students, providing endless learning opportunities to anyone new or experienced in the field of astronomy.

Henry Hammer

Henry Hammer and Jane Nachtman
Henry Hammer shows his poster to Prof. Nachtman

Majors: Physics/Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. Ravitej Uppu (Physics & Astronomy)

Frequency Correlation Measurements of Wavefront-shaped Light in Round, Square, and Rectangular Multimode Fiber Core Geometries

Round-core Multimode fibers (MMFs) have been extensively investigated due to their applicability in endoscopic imaging and optical communication. In particular, various wavefront shaping methods have been developed to achieve higher resolution imaging and high efficiency information transmission. However, alternative core geometries of MMF fibers (for e.g., square or rectangular) have not been investigated until recently for wavefront shaping. In this research project, I perform wavefront shaping of light transmitted through MMFs with square and rectangular core geometries and create foci at the end of long MMFs. Subsequently, I assess the frequency sensitivity of multimode interference on the controlled wavefronts as a function of fiber length, which helps us quantify light scattering in the MMF. Additionally, I investigate the possibility to focus light away from the distal end of the fiber, which could prove handy in realizing fiber-coupled single-photon sources. I conclude that both square and rectangular core MMFs present attractive frequency bandwidths when focusing light at and away from the distal end of the MMF, enabling new experimental opportunities for MMFs in photonics.

Maxwell Herrmann

Maxwell Herrmann
Maxwell Herrmann presents his poster

Majors: Physics | Mathematics

Mentors: Drs. Jane Nachtman, Yasar Onel (Physics & Astronomy)

Automation and Quality Control for Upgrades to the CMS Outer Tracker

The LHC is planning an upgrade program which will smoothly bring the luminosity up to 5×10^34 cm-2 s-1 , to possibly reach an integrated luminosity of 3000 fb-1 at the end of the next decade. This scenario, called the High Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC), will require an upgrade to the LHC detectors known as the Phase-2 upgrade. The current CMS Outer Tracker will be replaced by a completely new device to handle the demanding operating conditions and take advantage of the delivered luminosity. In this poster, some design choices for the CMS Outer Tracker upgrade are discussed along with some highlights of the assembly and testing developments.

John Horneat
John Horne

John Horne

Major: Physics and Astronomy

Mentor: Dr. Tom Folland (Physics & Astronomy)

Detection of emerging Volatile Organic Compounds using infrared spectroscopy.

To analyze and expand on techniques used to measure amounts of VOC’s in air, we will be using infrared spectroscopy and developing a fitting program to try and find the limit to how well we can detect concentrations these gasses.



Ryan Parian

Major: Physics

Mentor: Dr. Jane Nachtman (Physics & Astronomy)

Ryan Parian
Ryan Parian

Cooling Tests for the Barrel Timing Layer of the Compact Muon Solenoid Detector

Recent advances in radiation-hard detector technology have enabled the development of picosecond-level timing devices with a variety of uses including high energy particle physics detectors. The Minimum Ionizing Particle Timing Detector (MTD) is being constructed for use in the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. This detector will enable time separation of the passage of charged particles with 30- 40 picosecond resolution, enabling physicists to analyze collisions with hundreds of interactions and thousands of tracks per LHC collision. The University of Iowa is working with an international team to develop the cooling system for the silicon detectors for this system, including cryogenic testing done at Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Illinois.

Salvatore Quaid

Salvatore Quaid
Salvatore Quaid

Majors: Physics & Astronomy/ Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Rodgers (Physics & Astronomy)

Projective Black Holes

An attempt to better understand and test the theory of Thomas-Whitehead Projective Gravity and its extension to black holes. Aiding graduate students and professors in the creation of Mathematica files which take the found field equations and attempt to construct a usable metric. Focusing on specific conditions I have helped search for ways to solve certain problems as well as performing calculations simultaneously with others as a way to check the work.


Zach Vig

Zack Vig
Zack Vig

Majors: Physics /Geology

Mentor: Dr. Emily Finzel (Earth & Environmental Sciences)

Using a Camsizer to improve grain-size based Hydraulic Conductivity Estimates

Characterization of groundwater flow in ice-marginal environments is an exceedingly difficult task when using conventional sieve analysis. The aim of our work is to utilize Camsizer technology to improve both the accuracy and efficiency of grain-sized based hydraulic conductivity measurements in order to better characterize contaminant flow in these sediments. By analyzing the sand fraction of several down-hole sediment samples, we have shown that there may be some efficacy to these methods, although further analysis of fine-grained material is needed to make concrete estimates of subsurface plume movement for our site and similar ice marginal environments.