Nicolas is a rising senior at the University of Arizona majoring in Optical Engineering. He grew up in Upcountry Maui where he eventually graduated with high honors from Seabury Hall. He was a varsity athlete in Cross Country, Track and Field, and Paddling, and he continues to strive for personal fitness to compliment his academics. Raised with a keen sense of community, he strives as the Community Service chair for Phi Kappa Tau to give back to the Tucson Community and instill a passion for service among his fraternity brothers. After receiving an undergraduate’s degree, he hopes to gain engineering work experience while pursuing a graduate’s degree in Solar Physics. He aims to study the sun in Hawaii and understand the electromagnetic fields that allow for solar fusion and solar flares to occur. For the past three summers he has worked at Seabury Hall’s Summer School, and last summer he developed his own science courses for the 5th-8th grader attendees, and this stirred his interest to become a teacher.

Home Island: Maui
High School: Seabury Hall, Maui
Institution when accepted: University of Arizona

Characterizing Optical Components of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope’s Instruments
Project Site: Pukalani, Maui
Mentor: David Harrington and Stacey Sueoka

Project Abstract:

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) will conduct spectropolarimetry on the sun with its various instruments. The components of these instruments must have their optical behavior fully characterized to ensure measurement accuracy. To accomplish the goal of characterization, we used a lab spectropolarimeter to measure the ability of DKIST optical components to influence polarization at different spectral regions. We first calibrated the performance of the lab spectropolarimeter’s QE65000 Ocean Optics spectrometer. MATLAB codes controlled data acquisition while Python codes controlled data analysis to quantify CCD gain settings, dark current, readout noise, and dynamic range. With this information, the system’s signal to noise ratio (SNR) could be quantified as a function of exposure time. At exposure times of 150ms with 10 co-adds, the system could minimally detect 1 count (21 electrons) at an SNR of 1 and maximally detect 65,000 counts at an SNR of 3700. Wire grid polarizers were interchanged in the lab instrument to set the system’s contrast ratio across the 350-1100nm spectrum. The contrast ratio increased by an average factor of two when using cover glass protected polarizers as compared to when using uncovered polarizers. At orientations where the polarizers were causing minimal flux, the statistical noise from the CCD detector dominated the errors in contrast ratio calculations. With the contrast ratio and SNR of the lab spectropolarimeter, the system’s ability to perform polarimetry across the spectrum of interest can be fully defined. Then, optical elements to be used in DKIST instruments were inserted into the original lab instrument. Test results were compared against the original system performance to quantify the inserted element’s polarimetry capabilities. These test results will help define DKIST’s ability to accurately perform spectropolarimetry on the sun. Future studies should aim at showing how a polarizer’s optical coatings and protective glass can impact contrast ratio.