Physics Student Makes Noise this Summer


UCF Physics senior, Michael Antia, has been one of the latest undergraduate selected for a research experience with California Institute of Technology this summer.

Caltech’s LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program provides graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in the research and development program of Laser Interferometer Gravitational- Wave Observatory (LIGO). A broad span of opportunities range from gravitational physics and astrophysics to metrology. Students are involved in detector development, modeling, observing, and data analysis. This intensive summer program takes place each year at Caltech, funded in part through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program of the National Science Foundation.

Antia will be examining a situation where sources of low frequency noise such as wind or sesimic motion is being upconverted to higher frequency bands in the detector and working to identify the mechanism that is causing it. He will be conducting his research at Caltech and visiting the LIGO site at Livingston, Louisiana for two days.

“At LIGO, work is being done to find sources of noise in order to improve its sensitivity,” said Antia. “Two confirmed detections and a possible candidate were found while operating with a detection range of 60 to 80 megaparsecs for a binary neutron star. The goal is to increase the range to 200 megaparsecs by 2019, which should increase the rate of detection of gravitational waves”

The 10 week program began on June 14 and will end in August.

Separate from his summer REU, Antia has worked with UCF Physics professors, Anupama Yadav, Ph.D., and Elena Flitsiyan, Ph.D., on studying the gamma irradiation effects on Gallium Nitride and learning different techniques that will aid in the characterization of semi-conductor devices. He plans on studying Gallium Oxide semiconductors in the fall.

“I’d certainly like to thank Dr. Elena Flitsiyan for all of the advice she has given and answering my one million questions from day one,” said Antia. “I’d also like to thank Dr. Anupama Yadav, from whom I’ve picked up the habit of being meticulous with my methodology and logging it, which has helped me when I need to go back three weeks in time to remind myself of an observation I had jotted down, or a change in how an experiment was set up.”

At the end of the program, Antia will present his research at Caltech. Post REU, he plans on finishing his bachelor’s and dedicating the fall term to looking at grad schools or employment in the industry.

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