Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2008

Thesis Advisor(s)

Richard T. Jones

Honors Major



Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics


Diamonds are known for both their beauty and their durability. Jefferson National Lab in Newport News, VA has found a way to utilize the diamond's strength to view the beauty of the inside of the atomic nucleus with the hopes of finding exotic forms of matter. By firing very fast electrons at a diamond sheet no thicker than a human hair, high energy particles of light known as photons are produced with a high degree of polarization that can illuminate the constituents of the nucleus known as quarks. The University of Connecticut Nuclear Physics group has responsibility for crafting these extremely thin, high quality diamond wafers. These wafers must be cut from larger stones that are about the size of a human finger, and then carefully machined down to the final thickness. The thinning of these diamonds is extremely challenging, as the diamond's greatest strength also becomes its greatest weakness. The Connecticut Nuclear Physics group has developed a novel technique to assist industrial partners in assessing the quality of the final machining steps, using a technique based on laser interferometry. The images of the diamond surface produced by the interferometer encode the thickness and shape of the diamond surface in a complex way that requires detailed analysis to extract. We have developed a novel software application to analyze these images based on the method of simulated annealing. Being able to image the surface of these diamonds without requiring costly X-ray diffraction measurements allows rapid feedback to the industrial partners as they refine their thinning techniques. Thus, by utilizing a material found to be beautiful by many, the beauty of nature can be brought more clearly into view.

Included in

Physics Commons