The Current (07/02/2018), by Sonia Fernandez:
When the project is complete, individual research groups working with one or multiple specific frequencies of light will be able to conduct their studies efficiently, using a remote web-based interface to tune the laser, according to Weld. Condensed matter physicists can use the laser to explore the quantum mechanical properties of solids. Biophysicists can observe processes in individual molecules. And with the fine control provided by BIFROST, atomic physicists like Weld can precisely probe optical transitions.
“If you want to drive particular transitions, then you need light of very specific colors,” Weld said. “And if you want to do it precisely, you need that light to be spectroscopy-grade.” Until BIFROST, expensive, individual devices that provided one color or another were necessary; with this “light-faucet,” not only will existing research be boosted, but new areas can be opened up.
He added that the multi-user tunable spectroscopy-grade laser can also provide learning opportunities not always available to beginning physicists — namely, undergrads who can get an edge in their research and study with access to such an instrument.
“The inability to get well characterized laser light of a particular frequency is very often the barrier that prevents an experiment from being feasible in the undergraduate labs,” he said.
And it couldn’t come at a better time. UCSB has one of the fastest-growing populations of physics undergraduate students in the nation. Additionally, it is a minority-serving institution, a designation that enabled funding for BIFROST from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Army Research Office. The breadth of ongoing and future research the instrument can support and the opportunities it provides for education and STEM outreach, Weld noted, made the campus an ideal location for the half-million-dollar facility."