2019 Segrè Interns

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Berkeley’s Emilio Segrè Internship is an opportunity for three undergraduate students to enhance their experimental research skills by improving some of the experiments in Physics 111B, the Advanced Experimentation Laboratory located in the Donald A. Glaser 111 Lab. Students start their eight-week internship programs in June and complete their tasks by the first week of August. 

The Emilio Segrè Internship honors Italian physicist Emilio Segrè, a student of Enrico Fermi, who emigrated to the United States and accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley. Segrè’s work with Owen Chamberlain on anti-protons awarded them the Nobel Prize in 1959. 

This year’s interns are Nathan Aguilar, Titus Amza, and Karen Yu. The Physics Department gratefully acknowledges the generous gifts of Doug Giancoli that have made this internship possible.

About Their Work

A major focus of the Segre scholars this summer has been the new nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers experiment for Physics 111B. The apparatus was built up by Matthew Chow, a 2018 Segrè intern who, having completed his classwork, worked full-time to get the experiment developed. He learned from colleagues, presented to the committee, won donations, advised on purchasing materials, and assembled the system. This year's Segrè interns began with understanding and documenting how everything in the experiment works, including the control software in Matlab. One aspect of this is making a more reliable implementation of the Verilog code pertaining to a UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) within the circuitry of the FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) which is serving to control the sequence of the pulses being directed to the nitrogen-vacancy defects in the diamond crystal and requires the UART to communicate with the host PC running Matlab. The interns will also be testing the limits of how well the quantum state of the ensemble can be altered while preserving coherence. In addition to working with an ensemble (many NV centers at once), this apparatus seems capable of working with a single NV center as well. 

Another important part of their work has been with the Python programming language. Professor Marjorie Shapiro, an avid Python user, had some prototype Python tutorials which she wanted to be tested by students, and the Segrè scholars have been testing them and offering feedback. Professor Shapiro hopes to have tutorials that can be offered to students so that Physics classes that have homework involving Python can provide an alternate prerequisite. In addition, they are each attempting to implement some Python code with one of the pre-existing experiments in the lab, such as processing data from Brownian motion in cells and reading an instrument to log data over the GPIB bus.