Project Goals: I have basically three different projects this summer:
1. Characterize a new spectrometer using SIMION (contrary to popular belief, it holds no relation to my fiancÚ - it stands for simulated ion)
2. Analyze the data from an experiment on the disassociation of NH3+.
3. Build lots and lots of beamline.
For everyone who likes an explanation in at least somewhat ordinary English (just for you, Grandpa!), here goes:
1. We are eventually going to build a spectrometer, which we will use to help us do some calculations for an experiment similar to the one I will describe under number 2. Since it will be brand new, we want to have a pretty good idea of how it work and what the best settings will be for experiments, and it's my job to figure that out. That means doing lots of test runs on a computer simulation program and making graphs so I can see how the results work together, as well as solving some nasty mathematical equations.
2. The experiment I will be analyzing involves sending a beam of NH3+ into a spectrometer, where it smashes into another beam of Fluorine gas. The impact causes the NH3+ to break into pieces. A strong electric field surrounding our spectrometer encourages any pieces that pick up or keep a positive charge to fly towards a detector located a ways away. When they smash into the detector, we have some hi-tech equipment that tells us where they hit the target and how long it took them to get there. With that information, we can do some math to find out what kind of particles any particular NH3+ molecule split into (H+, H2+, NH+, etc.) We are mostly hoping to get a better idea of the behavior and structure of the NH3+ molecule.
3. Beamline is the generic term for big pieces of pipe with all kinds of fancy detectors, lenses, slits, and stuff inside that a beam of particles can travel through. As a young, energetic, and reasonably strong person, I get to help take pieces of it apart, change stuff around, and put it back together, as well as build completely new beamlines. This part is cool because it has all the sciencey looking stuff with lots of wires and bolts and shiny metal all over the place. My favorite part is getting to see how the insides of our experimental apprati work.
Here's a picture of some beamline: