Palash Banerjee is a professor of physics, and his specialization in magnetics sparked the idea for his summer experiment.
Banerjee spent this past summer at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point researching a microscopic magnet that has the potential to expand and improve the capability of computers. He constructed an interferometer, a device that has the capacity to study tiny structures called nanomagnets.
“I was looking for a way to measure the deflection of small mechanical structures,” Banerjee said.
Today, computer engineers can fit about 500 gigabytes into a square inch of hard drive space, but Banerjee said his goal is to fit double that amount into the same space. This would open numerous doors in the world of technology.
Banerjee said the interferometer allowed him to study and detect the swinging motion of a small and fragile pendulum. He explained that because a computer’s hard drive is a complex array of magnets, this can help him reach an ultimate analytical breakthrough.
However, he is not sure how long it will take to reach this goal.
“This is a little difficult to predict,” Banerjee said. “I have several questions in mind that we will try to address during the next three summers. It may take us longer.”
Banerjee did not reach this conclusion alone.
Junior Erin Sullivan and UWSP graduate Sean Minister assisted their professor in his summer experiment. Both students had previously worked in his lab during the school year and were not ready to stop contributing to the project.
Banerjee said both were excellent students with superb experimental skills. He did not hesitate when they both wanted to continue the research.
“The goal of our work is to generate new knowledge,” Banerjee said. “If our experiments are reproducible and produce meaningful new information, my students and I will publish this in physics journals.”
Banerjee explained that some research is started simply to create a ripple effect, not necessarily to reach one specific landmark.
“We hope that our experiments will be successful in another way,” Banerjee said. “Good experiments always open up new and unforeseen questions which will point the way for future work.”