Fast beams of neutral molecules – the next generation of laser induced molecular dissociation imaging

by Andrew Rotunno

supervisor:  Dr. Itzik Ben-Itzhak

Kansas State University Physics Department  REU Program


This program is funded by the National Science Foundation through grant number PHY-1157044.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Welcome to my webpage.  This page summarizes my experience doing research for the Summer 2013 in the James R. Macdonald laboratory under the advisement of Bethany Joachim and Dr. Itzik Ben-Itzhak.  My project for the summer was to design and test an apparatus to neutralize a significant portion of a keV ion beam.

Project Overview: In order to study a particle, one needs to be able to detect it. Charged particles are common choices because one can accelerate them with an electromagnetic field, but nature tends to be made of neutral particles, which typically don’t have enough energy to detect. By creating a fast beam of neutral particles, we can investigate the basic building blocks of the world and their associated energies.

Research Description: The aim of this research was to create an apparatus that would allow for the creation of a fast beam of neutral particles. Design and development of this apparatus involved researching fluid flow, atomic and molecular states, collision cross sections, electrodynamics, kinematics, particle detection mechanisms, tuning ion beams, aligning lasers, and computer assisted design software. 

The Principle:

The Apparatus


Final Presentation:  Click here to download my presentation in PowerPoint format.

Final Report: You can see my final report in pdf format.

Lectures by Dr. Weaver:  I learned a myriad of things about new physics – both big topics in atomic, molecular, and optical physics, quantum mechanics, high energy physics, and many topics not often taught in intro to modern classes.

Ethics Class: One of the most interesting things about the ethics class was the application of the Utilitarian vs. Deontic ethical mindset as it applies to physics, especially with regard to publication rights and responsibilities.

          Another interesting ethics discussion came when I sat in on an ethics meeting between my IBI group and Bret Esry’s theoretical AMO group. Many real-world moral quandaries were brought up and discussed by grad students, post-docs, and professors.

About Me:  I'm really interesting!  I grew up in Syracuse, New York, and attend College at Fordham University.  I first got interested in physics as a baby.  I'm involved in Experimental Theater, youth mentoring, coffeshop antics, and playing guitar.

Useful Links:

When I'm not tuning beams, I like to see what the internet has to offer.  Check out these useful sites:

American Physical Society Statements on Ethics

American Institute of Physics

James R. MacDonald Laboratory