Commissioning of a Fabry-Perot interferometer

(supervisor: Chris Finlayson)

Nature of project: experimental, experimental

Available to full-time physicists or joint students.

Project description and methodology

The F-P interferometer makes use of multiple reflections between two closely spaced partially silvered surfaces. Part of the light is transmitted each time the light reaches the second surface, resulting in multiple offset beams which can interfere with each other. The large number of interfering rays produces an interferometer with extremely high resolution, somewhat like the multiple slits of a diffraction grating increase its resolution.[1]

In this project, the student will design and build an experimental set-up for the reconditioning and recalibration of existing F-P instruments within the Dept. This will include a full characterisation of the resolution and fine-tuning capabilities of the instrument using light source standards, such as the He-Ne laser and the sodium-D lines.[2,3]

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
A desirable end result of the project would be a robust and fully calibrated instrument capable of use within the UG teaching laboratories.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

This project is only available as a Y3 project.

Initial literature for students:

  1. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/phyopt/fabry.html
  2. Jenkins & White, Fundamentals of Optics (4th ed), pp.301-310
  3. E. Hecht, Optics (4th ed), pp.421-425

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

This project would be well suited to average Y3 physics students. There is a substantial practical element to the project, which will require some diligence and application. Training will be given on equipment where required.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
Equipment familiarisationChristmas
Experiment design and testingend of February
Callibration of instrumentmid-March
Analysis/results phaseEaster

Students taking this project will have to submit a full risk assessment form