UW Undergraduate Research Program

<<< URP Home

Students in Research
See more URP photos!

URP Advising




Creative Commons License
The Undergraduate Research Program website, created by the Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Washington, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available at exp.washington.edu/urp/about/rights.html

The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Sasha Zhdanova, Physics, 2012-13 WRFF

Sasha ZhdanovaI was born on the steppes of Russia, seventeen years ago. I knew that the only way out of Russia was to study science, and to study it well.

Three years ago, I arrived at the UW as a fresh-faced youngling eager to fulfill my newborn promise. Physics was the most daunting and consequently the most rewarding of my subjects, and so I decided to do it until it got boring. The turning point from "not boring" to "complete devotion" came when I began to work for the Eot-Wash lab (otherwise known as the Gravity Group) in the Fall of 2011. For the last year, I worked on improving and adding to the sensor network that controls the conditions of the lab - constant conditions are important for a lab that does precise measurements of gravity.

I am currently building an autocollimator-type device that takes advantage of weak-value amplification to make ultra-precise (on the order of 10 picoradians) angle measurements. I sincerely thank the Washington Research Foundation for supporting this research, and I look forward to the future!

Mentor: Jens Gundlach, Physics

Project Title: Building an Interferometric Quasi-Autocollimator

Abstract: Pre and post-selection offer a wide variety of research developments, particularly in the area of quantum weak-value measurements. The so-called "weak" measurements provide a way of measuring and hence amplifying the state of a large number of particles; taken in the context of angle measurement, the smallest angular disturbances can be magnified and measured. We propose to build a device that uses the concept of weak-value amplification in a modified Sagnac interferometer to measure angles up to the precision of a picoradian. This instrument will be referred to as a interferometric quasi-autocollimator, or iQuAC for short. A proof-of-concept iQuAC has already been built, but its frequency range is severely limited to be between 10 and 200 Hz, and it was built as a prototype on an optical breadboard. We hope to substantially expand the frequency range and build a stable, working iQuAC that will improve on the old one as much as possible. Achieving this is more than possible; there are many, many ways to reduce noise sources, such as increasing thermal conductivity and reducing the effects of optical resonance. A fully-functioning iQuAC that is precise at both high and low frequencies provides a reliable way to measure angles at a distance - a concept that is useful in a variety of fields, such as vibration analysis of very stiff structures or inertial navigational systems.