My research in Physics has been largely in the area of laser spectroscopy of atoms and molecules. I have collaborated with the group of Prof. Daniel Kleppner at M.I.T. in addition to my work with students in my laboratory at Wellesley. The work at M.I.T. has centered on the study of highly excited atomic states: "Rydberg States". Exciting particular Rydberg levels with tunable dye lasers, we have investigated field ionization, induced radiative transfer, interaction with blackbody radiation, lifetimes and the modification of the interaction between atoms and photons induced by a resonant cavity. The latest work was centered on the precision spectroscopy of circular Rydberg states of Hydrogen.

 At Wellesley, I have worked with students on a wide variety of research projects, reflecting their particular interests and the extensive range of the applications of physics. Recently, I have supervised a number of students who have constructed optical tweezers using light in the visible and infrared regions. Optical tweezers use the forces produced by tightly focused light to trap and manipulate small particles. Our latest device is an infrared tweezers and uses computer controls to manipulate the samples. An honors student is measuring the minuscule forces on chloroplasts in plant leaves. A number of other students have worked on projects in biophysics or biomedical engineering. One student worked on the application of multiwire proportional chambers (used in nuclear physics) to quantifying bone mineralization. This work was done in collaboration with a group from MIT. Recently, another honors student investigated the influence of electric fields on the calcium channels in cell membranes. This project was carried out in cooperation with a team from the Harvard Medical School.

 In atomic physics and modern optics students have worked on such projects as the construction of tunable lasers, optogalvanic atomic spectroscopy and pulse propagation through optical fibers. One astrophysics major worked on modeling propulsion systems for interstellar travel. We are also currently setting up an apparatus to cool and trap Rubidium atoms.

Contact Us

Department of Physics
Science Center
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

Melanie Chamberlin
Administrative Assistant

Tel: 781.283.3156