Nicolas DeStefano, a Ph.D. student in William & Mary’s Department of Physics, is one of 44 graduate students selected by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science to include in its graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program’s 2022 Solicitation 1 cycle.
“The Department of Energy is committed to growing the American science and technology workforce. SCGSRs are one way we contribute to nurturing the incredible talent and curiosity in students from all walks of life to meet the great scientific challenges of the world,” said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of the DOE Office of Science, in a release. “I know the future is bright for these students, and I’m honored that the Department of Energy can be a part of their stories.”
Through the SCGSR program, DeStefano will conduct part of his graduate thesis research at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab) in Newport News, in collaboration with Alexandre Camsonne, staff scientist at JLab.
DeStefano will be continuing his work on quantum enhanced tracker technology. The tracker is designed to track charged particles passing through a field of rubidium atoms rendered into a “dark state.” He explained that the idea is to develop a “non-invasive” detector, in that the method senses the fields generated by the particles without probing the particle beam directly.
The DOE release noted that SCGSR awardees work on research projects of significant importance to the Office of Science mission that address critical energy, environmental and nuclear challenges at national and international scales. Projects in this cohort span six Office of Science research programs and one priority convergence research topical area.
“Overall, the project is a unique application of atomic physics concepts for use as a tool for nuclear experimentalists. One can imagine using this detector as a beam diagnostic providing feedback on beam current, position, and width,” DeStefano explained.
“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to start from an optics lab in the basement of Small Hall and wrap up my Ph.D at a larger national lab,” he added. “By working with scientists at Jefferson Lab, I can learn more about the intricacies of working with high-energy particle beams to add to the skills I obtained doing research in physics.”