Cutting Edge Education

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Posted: January 22, 2021

By Irene Gray 

Right here in New Mexico, students in the Laboratory of Magneto-optical Spectroscopy are being exposed to cutting-edge instrumentation and skills that will put them far ahead of their peers once they graduate. Directed by Jeffrey Rack, PhD, (pictured above, far right), the new lab within PAÍS is now one of few in the world equipped to measure light down to a quadrillionth of a second. With this capability, Rack and his students are increasing their collaborative opportunities and producing measurements so accurate that they are sure to impact future solar technologies.

In a collaborative study with the University of Chicago, graduate student Emigdio E. Turner (pictured above, third from right) led the effort by creating a high-sensitivity, low-signal instrument capable of measuring magneto-optical properties of materials that are generally understood to be non-magnetic – or organic in composition.

While it is not common for these materials to have magnetic properties, researchers world-wide have discovered that some organic materials have enough magnetic properties to produce electricity. Ultimately, this means that solar energy could one day become much more accessible to the general population because organic materials are much less costly to produce.

To help advance this project, graduate student Glorianne Dorce (pictured above, second from right) will be working with Emigdio over the next few months in instrument development. Additionally, Glorianne will be monitoring the magneto-optical properties of new hybrid materials.

Technologies for harnessing light can be found everywhere: from cell phone displays, to cameras, to medical equipment. Our world today is largely impacted by the many forms of light that power devices for healthcare, energy, education and climate study, to name a few. UNM graduates will no doubt be at the forefront of future advancements for these technologies, thanks to their experiences gained here.