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The APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) awarded its 2006 Thesis Award to Brian Odom, for his thesis entitled “Measurement of the Electron g-Factor in a Sub-Kelvin Cylindrical Cavity.” The selection was made during the DAMOP annual meeting, held May 16-20 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (See Atomic Clocks, Fast Lasers Highlight DAMOP Meeting)
Odom earned his B.S. in physics from Stanford University in 1995, and did his graduate work at Harvard University under Gerald Gabrielse. He had made a previous measurement of the electron’s magnetic moment, but then discovered a serious flaw in the design of the apparatus used to perform the experiment. As a result, the effects of nuclear magnetism turned out to be too strong for the level of accuracy required in measuring the electron’s magnetic moment.
So Odom redesigned the experiment, building a completely new apparatus (featuring silver electrodes and a titanium vacuum enclosure), which reduced the effect of nuclear magnetism by a factor of 20. He achieved a much improved measurement of the electron magnetic moment, and the best determination of the fine structure constant to date. Gabrielse, for one, believes that in the long-term, Odom’s work will lead to an improved measurement of the proton-to-electron mass ratio as well.
Following the awarding of his PhD in 2004, Odom accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago.
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