TeachSpin's Diode Laser Spectroscopy Lab is an affordable, student-friendly tunable laser system designed for exploring a wide range of atomic and optical physics phenomena in the undergraduate laboratory. Developed in collaboration with Professor Kenneth Libbrecht of Caltech, the instrument features a wavelength-tunable diode laser, a temperature-regulated rubidium cell, and comes with all the associated optics hardware for performing a variety of spectroscopy experiments including a student favorite - saturated absorption.
In a series of well-defined yet challenging experiments, students explore the energy states of both isotopes of rubidium (85Rb and 87Rb), the Zeeman splitting of the 5P3/2 excited states in an applied magnetic field, the relationship between resonant atomic absorption and refractive index in rubidium vapor, resonant Faraday rotation, and the Clausius-Claperyon relationship, as well as the operation and characteristics of stabilized diode lasers and interferometric methods of calibrating the frequency sweep of a laser.
In addition,TeachSpin and Libbrecht working under an NSF grant developed a Fabry-Perot cavity designed to build on the capabilities of this instrument. This cavity, which can also be used with other commercial or home-built lasers, is fully compatible with the existing apparatus and significantly expanded the already wide range of experiments possible with TeachSpin's Diode Laser Spectroscopy Lab.
In addition to developing advanced laboratory explorations of atomic energy states, Professor Libbrecht has worked on a broad variety of topics in physics. At different times, he has ventured into helioseismology, laser-cooled atoms, the search for gravitational waves, and the physics of crystal growth. While chairing the Caltech physics department, teaching, and advising TeachSpin, he manages to find time to pursue his research on gravitational waves.
Perhaps it was the snows of his native North Dakota that motivated Ken to become an authority on the crystal growth of snowflakes. His web site devoted to this topic, www.snowcrystals.com is well worth visiting. Ken describes the physics of these unique ice structures in a beautiful coffee table book The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty, which, last winter, was given front-page billing in the Science Times section of The New York Times.
The Snowflake graces our coffee table here at TeachSpin and we were delighted to be able to send complimentary copies as a special bonus with the first twenty Diode Laser Spectroscopy systems sold. We hope they have enjoyed the beautiful clarity of Ken's prose whether he is talking about delicate, one-of-a-kind snowflakes or the impressively reproducible data of our laser spectroscopy experiments.Learn about Fabry-Perot Cavity .