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February 8, 2023

SVSU physics department receives donation of optical equipment

Specialized device expands capabilities, enhances student experience

Two college students using small device

Saginaw Valley State University was recently awarded a donation of optical equipment from Gentec-EO through the company’s Laser Lab Awards program. Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, Gentec-EO is a worldwide supplier of instruments for the measurement of laser and terahertz equipment.

Chris Nakamura, SVSU associate professor of physics, applied for the award.

SVSU’s Physics Department has long had a strong optics component. According to Nakamura, recent graduates from the SVSU physics program have gone on to work with optics and lasers in industrial research and development (R&D) or graduate study. The optical physics degree program gives students opportunities to study cutting-edge physics topics relevant to in-demand careers in optics, lasers and photonics. Nakamura said Gentec-EO’s donation of a BEAMAGE-4M beam profiler will support the physics faculty’s efforts to better train SVSU students with the best available optical technology used in research labs and industrial research and development (R&D) facilities.

“A laser beam’s profile, or shape, matters a lot for many applications, like laser cutting, laser trapping and laser surgery.” said Nakamura “Early methods of measuring the beam profile were time-consuming and error prone. Having this device will let our students make measurements in a faster, easier and more accurate way.”

Nakamura said the new beam profiler will complement other equipment in use by SVSU physics students.

“We have a number of Helium-Neon lasers and diode lasers, and the beam profiler is useful for understanding their beam profiles,” Nakamura said. “Presently we have two students working on senior research aimed at building a couple of lasers, and so being able to measure the beam profile for new home-built lasers is certainly something we’re excited about.”

The beam profiler will be used in a wide range of physics courses and labs at SVSU, as well as to support student senior research projects. Having access to better measurement technology at SVSU will help students build a greater level of technical expertise and better prepare for their future careers.

“Optics really has a strong laboratory component to it.” Nakamura said. “We’re always working to get the best lab equipment possible for teaching our students. So, we’re very grateful for industrial support, like equipment donations, which really helps us a lot.” 

Learn more about SVSU’s physics offerings at