Geoffrey Iwata L&S Sciences
Measuring the Kerr constant and its temperature dependence in new zero-birefringent materials
Laser light has been proven to be an effective and elegant method of probing sensitive physical systems, providing many seminal, precision methods in experimental physics. These experiments must prove free of systematic errors and be minimally perturbative to the phenomena to be examined. Along these lines, I am researching the properties of zero-birefringent acrylic polymers in a range of temperatures from room temperature down to a couple Kelvin. In exhibiting this unique property of zero-birefringence, these materials do not affect the polarization of light passing through them, even when under stress. Yet no measurements have been made of how their transmission properties may change under high electric field, a consequence called the Kerr Effect. In measuring what is known as the Kerr constant and its temperature dependence to high accuracy, I will provide an important characterization of useful new materials that are to be used in sensitive high-precision physics research.