Graduation Year



This thesis begins with a foundational section on quantum optics. The single-photon detectors used in the first chapter were obtained through the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA), which brokered reduced cost for educational use, and the aim of the single-photon work presented in Chapter 1 is to develop modules for use in Illinois Wesleyan's instructional labs beyond the first year of university. Along with the American Association of Physics Teachers, ALPhA encourages capstone-level work, such as Chapter 1 of this honors thesis, which is explicitly designed to play the role of passing on, to a next generation of physics majors, materials that can play a central role in their curriculum. Thus, although such work had previously been done at other institutions, the value added by this work has to do with the impact upon the local curriculum, and the utility of the collation o of these materials into one single, easily accessible form.

Beyond its first chapter, this thesis extends into my research projects, each of which, in the long term, carries a motivation that connects back to questions raised in the studies described in Chapter 1. While the first chapter describes ways in which we can experimentally study the ``spin'' polarization state of a single photon, the second deals extends the discussion of how information may be encoded into the angular momentum of light, and some of its potential long-term consequences, e.g., for experiments involving optical traps that may someday test for the (controversial) hypothesized existence of a boundary between the microscopic (quantum) and macroscopic (classical) domains. Here, too, the work presented builds upon a body of work in the recent research literature. The final chapter deals with the creation of meso-scale systems for use in advanced optical traps studies. Each of these last two chapters points towards opportunities in physics research that are tentative in nature and, as such, constitute research that is very much aspirational. The citations provided, while not exhaustive, point both towards some of the more useful resources discovered during this work, and to some ongoing controversies in the field. At the same time, these chapters also aim to delineate concrete, specific steps that we have taken, which we believe are of immediate interest in their own rights.


Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics | Nanotechnology Fabrication | Optics | Physics | Quantum Physics