Introduction for the citizen

Your real question may in fact be, “Why should we pay for your research?” Because we are producing two very important products: highly-trained people and new scientific knowledge.

The people who work in this group–undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers–learn to solve hard problems that have not been solved before. In addition to receiving rigorous intellectual training, they learn state-of-the-art techniques in optics, electronics, semiconductor device fabrication, mechanical design, cryogenics, and computer programming, as well as learning communication, technical writing, and teamwork. This broad training prepares them to play a leadership role in the high-technology sector of our economy.

The new scientific knowledge we generate has intrinsic value, and will assist in the development of new technologies–though it is difficult to predict what those new technologies will be!

A historical example– theories of absorption and emission of light by Einstein from the early part of the last century led to the development of lasers in the middle of that century, which led to supermarket scanners in use today. Einstein certainly had no idea that his theories would lead to a laser, and the inventors of the laser certainly did not foresee them appearing at the supermarket checkout stand!

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