The best way to learn physics is by doing physics. To this end, at Houghton we offer a curriculum that, in addition to solid coursework, emphasizes the practical laboratory experience. Our goal is to provide a much broader experience for our students by having them spend several years becoming deeply involved in a “real-world” research problem – a problem that requires them to use all of the skills, tools and knowledge they have accumulated throughout their educational career, from electronic design to quantum mechanics to machine shop. Students present their work at professional scientific meetings, as well as prepare a thesis. Summers are often spent working on research with Houghton faculty as well, most recently on experiments at Ohio University and SUNY Geneseo for the inertial confinement fusion programs at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and nanotechnology research at the Cornell Center for Materials Research at Cornell University.
Students get the chance to work on a wide variety of problems which require them to integrate the skills they have mastered in their traditional coursework, as well as learn new techniques. They also show posters and give oral presentations at scientific meetings. Finally, at the end of their senior year, they prepare a thesis detailing their work.
Browsing Physics, Computer Science and Data Science (Physics) by Author "Bowman, Joshua"
The Houghton College Cyclotron is a miniature particle accelerator that uses two “dee” shaped hollow electrodes, of 15.6 cm radius, to accelerate ions across a gap with an alternating RF potential difference of a few thousand volts at a frequency of 5.831 MHz. As an ion accelerates, an up to 1.13 T magnetic field keeps it on a circular path that spirals outward, allowing the ion to accelerate multiple times using the same electric potential. In this experiment, deuterons were ionized by electrons from a filament and accelerated, with a current of about 20 nA and an approximate energy of 4.8 keV, into a copper target at a radius of 5.54 cm where they embedded themselves. Later deuterons striking the embedded deuterons caused the D(d,n)3He reaction which produced neutrons. A plastic scintillator detector counted the neutrons that penetrated the chamber walls. An increase of 7913±587 counts or 158±12 counts per minute was detected when the beam was turned on. This is a significant milestone for the Houghton College Cyclotron as it is the first nuclear reaction that this cyclotron has successfully generated.
(Houghton College, 2022-04-08) Hotchkiss, Andrew; Bowman, Joshua; Yuly, Mark
The Houghton College Cyclotron accelerates ions inside of a 17 cm inner diameter evacuated aluminum chamber placed between the poles of a 1.2 T electromagnet. Very low pressure gas allowed into the evacuated chamber is ionized by electrons coming from a filament. Inside the chamber, a high voltage RF signal applied to a “dee” shaped electrode accelerates the ions each time they are between the dee and a grounded “dummy dee”, resulting in a spiral path because of the magnetic field. The cyclotron has successfully accelerated hydrogen, helium and most recently, deuterium. The deuterons were allowed to implant into a copper target, where they reacted via 2 H( d,n 3 He to produce neutrons which were detected using a plastic scintillator outside the vacuum chamber.
XL Annual Rochester Symposium for Physics Students, University of Rochester, April 8, 2022.