October 21st 2022
To celebrate the Day of Photonics, PHIX provided a guest lesson about photonics at a high school in Hengelo
Building a fascination for photonics
Although integrated photonics is taking big steps toward entering our households, it is still far from being a household name. Given the shortage of science graduates, especially in the area of photonics, it is crucial to start building excitement and knowledge about this field early in the lives of the potential engineering talents. To this end, PHIX were guests at high school Lyceum de Grundel in Hengelo (The Netherlands), where we spent a double period introducing students to photonic chips and some of the physical phenomena on which they’re based.
Taking care not to talk too long about our company’s activities in the introductory slideshow, we soon brought out our Photonics Explorer Kit, which is made available by B-PHOT Brussels Photonics. This toolkit contains a collection of materials for performing hands-on experiments into optical phenomena.
Part 1: Polarization
In the first part of the lesson the students looked through (a series of) polarization filters to investigate how light can be attenuated or even fully blocked. By placing a third polarizer between two filters rotated at right angles, they discovered the principle of a liquid crystal display (LCD). Next, they created a sugar solution that was found to rotate the plane of polarization, esentially building their own polarimeter to measure the concentration of the solute.
Part 2: Diffraction and interference
Shining the laser through a double slit made the students aware of diffraction and the wave properties of light. We explained how this experiment can be used to calculate the wavelength of the laser. Knowing that constant would allow us to measure the width of a hair in a similar experiment. Realizing that the complete section on diffraction and interference in the toolkit’s lessons would take far longer than a single period, we decided to let the students playfully cover each topic briefly, so they had a lot of fun looking at emission spectra through diffraction gratings.
PHIX would like to thank physics teacher Jan Schoenmaker and his supporting staff at Lyceum de Grundel for showing such enthusiasm about our guest lesson before, during and after it took place! We also greatly appreciated the coffee and cake and all the help handing out the materials and stowing them away again.
We also extend our gratitude to Tine de Pauw and Astghik Chalyan at B-PHOT for going through the experiments with us in an online teaching course. Thanks to you the afternoon was a big success!