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New laser coming to UC Merced

Nine UC Merced professors have been awarded a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to buy a high-tech laser system.

The equipment, comprised of four lasers and other components, is flexible and can be set up for use in several fields, such as physics, chemistry, nanoscience and biophysics.

“It is a very sophisticated system, but considering its capacity, surprisingly simple to operate,” said Sayantani Ghosh, a professor who led the grant-writing team. “It’s one of the most versatile and useful systems available.”

The college expects the new equipment to attract new faculty members over the next few years.

Some students will also be able to work directly with the system. A nanotechnology major is planned for the Fall 2009 semester. Other upper-level students might also get to work with the system.

“They can get hands-on experience on an expensive and intricate system, something that’s very hard to come by at other universities,” Ghosh said. “Everybody knows about laser pointers and weapons in movies, but it’s great for science students to realize that we use lasers to investigate fundamental scientific processes.”

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