For his master project, supervised by Florian Schreck and Robert Spreeuw, Plaßmann took on a very challenging master thesis topic: the construction of a UV laser for Rydberg excitation of strontium atoms. Despite the difficulty of the topic, he excelled at executing it successfully.
The laser system was to operate with ultraviolet light, with a tunable wavelength, have narrow linewidth and produce several 100 mW of output power. Such a laser system is much more complex than what a usual master project would comprise. According to Robert Spreeuw, one of Plaßmann’s supervisors, “Construction of one of the subsystems alone would have been sufficient for a good master project. The completion of the entire complex laser system is an exceptional achievement for a master student. There was no ready-to-build package, Thies had to design the system himself. This required him to perform extensive literature research, calculations to optimize the design, designing of optomechanics, ordering of many complex parts, and obviously the construction, debugging and characterization of the laser system.”
At the end of the project, Plaßmann had managed to produce a stable laser system with the required properties. At present, the group in which he did his project is preparing to use the laser in strontium tweezer experiment, to excite Rydberg atoms for quantum simulation purposes.
The NNV AMO Master thesis prize aims to recognize an outstanding MSc research thesis and research project done in the Netherlands in one of the AMO subfields. Nominated MSc theses are evaluated in terms of scientific originality, scientific significance, practical relevance, impact, and quality of the presentation. The prize, consisting of €1000 prize money and a certificate, was awarded to Plaßmann during the 45th annual NNV AMO meeting in Egmond aan Zee on 5 October 2022.