Awards Database

Cottrell College Science Awards - 2015

Jonathan Paul Wrubel

Creighton University
Physics

Precision Measurement of the Microwave Fano-Feshbach Resonance in Ultracold 41K Atoms

We can combine atoms in numberless ways to create all the elemental materials and compounds that make up our physical reality, and we can even split atoms to produce spectacular bursts of energy. But there are still a lot of things we don’t know about these fantastically small bits of matter and energy.

That’s why Jonathan P. Wrubel, assistant professor of physics at Creighton University, has received a Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement, America’s second-oldest foundation and the first devoted wholly to science.

The award will enable Wrubel to engage in research at ultracold temperatures to investigate the quantum forces at play among atoms. He hopes to use microwave magnetic fields to control the interactions in an ultracold gas of potassium atoms by exciting a “Fano-Feshbach resonance. (Fundamentally, resonance is the synchronous vibration of an object.)

More commonly used methods employ magnetic fields or laser light to manipulate atoms, but these techniques have problems, such as slow response times and a tendency to scatter the very atoms they are supposed to measure.

“The microwave Fano-Feshbach resonance, if it can be produced, would overcome these difficulties,” Wrubel predicts.

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