Submitted by: Jeremy Schultz
Division: Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences
Initially the instrument I use in my research is disorienting. It is a mass of jutting metal parts, nuts, bolts, and viewports akin to a diving bell. However, every part was engineered to serve a specific purpose, creating a supremely clean vacuum environment. Despite the instrument’s size, it is used to study the interactions of the vibrations of individual molecules with light. Light is effectively confined at the apex of an atomically sharp metal tip located imperceptibly close to molecules on a surface. The actual experiment is barely visible through the small window in the bottom right of the image, where the green of the laser light illuminates the tip and sample. It is so easy to lose a sense of scale over the months and years of research. But it is critical to always retain an appreciation for the work previously done by others and where current research may contribute to ever developing technologies and methods.