On April 17, 2024, a Skyline team embarked on a journey to the Facility for Rare Ion Beams (FRIB), located at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, Michigan.

The team consisted of Physics Instructors Emilie Hein and Marco Wehrfritz and nEXO interns Simon Herrmann and Phone Thant Myo.The nEXO experiment is searching for a rare nuclear decay called neutrinoless double beta decay.

The Institute for Nuclear Science organized the conference they attended to Inspire the Next Generation for a Highly Trained Workforce (INSIGHT). It is a support network of Research Traineeships to Broaden and Diversify Nuclear Physics created by the Office of Nuclear Physics within the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science. INSIGHT supports 13 traineeship programs across the U.S. and partners directly with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The Skyline nEXO internship program is one of them. In this internship program, we connect student interns with research experts from the nEXO collaboration at institutions such as Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) to work on the nEXO R&D projects.

The meeting was a great networking opportunity. The experts could share their insights and methods in supporting students in pursuing nuclear science careers. The Skyline group also presented the nEXO program at Skyline College and highlighted the work of Skyline student trainees. They strongly benefited from the exchange of experience and knowledge and getting to know attendees from other institutions.

The conference attendees also got the chance to tour FRIB. This world-class research, teaching, and training center hosts what is designed to be the most powerful rare isotope accelerator. MSU operates FRIB as a user facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), supporting the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. FRIB allows MSU students to engage in groundbreaking research in tandem with their coursework, contributing to the efforts of the newest and most advanced rare isotope research facility and the world’s most powerful rare isotope accelerator. FRIB will be making the news soon as they will discover a large amount of new isotopes.

Photo by Faye Watson: From left: Marco Wehrfritz, Emilie Hein, Simon Herrmann and Phone Thant Myo at the Facility for Rare Ion Beams (FRIB).

Students described their experience at FRIB in their own words.

Simon Herrmann: On April 17 and 18, I was lucky enough to attend the 2024 Insight Workshop at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University with Professor Hein and Professor Wehrfritz. In this workshop, I had the opportunity to network with others, learn about what goes on at FRIB from employees and graduate students, and sit in on a few different talks. It was fascinating to hear about the particle accelerator they built and how it can be used to discover new isotopes.

Phone Thant Myo: The trip to Michigan State University is an eye-opening experience for me. The Insight Workshop hosted by the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) was attended by physics, engineering, and chemistry students and mentors around the nation, which enabled us to get a chance to network with those great people and have a glimpse at their beautiful works. We also did get a chance to listen to Michigan State University grad students’ presentations about the Theory of Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Chemistry, and Accelerator Engineering, which gave us a brief overview of their research works and a chance to think about our further education.

The group came back in time for uSOAR. Phone Thant Myo and Codie Lai presented posters on their nEXO projects, while Simon Herrmann gave an insightful presentation about his experience working with mentors at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Photo by Emilie Hein: Phone Thant Myo at uSOAR

The students shared highlights from their experience at uSOAR.

Phone Thant Myo: The annual Undergraduate Symposium of Academic Research (uSOAR) gave me a chance to present my ongoing project for nEXO internship, “ElectroStatic Counter”. It is an electric board designed to interpret the signal from the negatively charged diode used for attracting positive ions emitted during Radon- 222 decay. This project is quite an adventurous experience for me as not only I get to learn about electronics but also it is my first time touching the data analysis field with the help of programming. The main takeaway for me from the project is learning more about nuclear decay and the interpretation of that decay data.

Photo by Emilie Hein: Codie Lai at uSOAR

Codie Lai: On April 19, I had the wonderful opportunity to present my summer internship project, the Xenon Purity Monitor Laser Attenuator Control, at Skyline’s annual Undergraduate Symposium of Academic Research (uSoar). The laser attenuator control was designed to be a subsystem of the larger system called the Xenon Purity Monitor that helps reduce a laser’s intensity. The laser attenuator control helps make the laser manipulation more efficient and remote. Several technical skills were learned and tested for this project, including but not limited to 3D designing and printing, coding, and circuit assembly.

Photo by Emilie Hein: Simon Herrmann presenting at uSOAR

Simon Herrmann: On April 19, I was allowed to present some of my projects in the nEXO collaboration at Skyline’s Annual Undergraduate Symposium of Research (uSOAR). I discussed my work with the charge readout tile assembly in the nEXO detector, some resistivity testing and analysis, and DEI work. Throughout this research work, I have picked up many skills needed to work on mechanical and electrical systems, including CAD proficiency, circuit board design, Python, etc. I was allowed to do this work at SLAC National Lab through Skyline College’s nEXO Program.

This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (Office of Nuclear Physics), under Award Number DE-SC0024677.

Article by Simon Herrmann, Phone Thant Myo, Codie Lai, Eslin Villalta, Emilie Hein and Marco Wehrfritz

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