Garrek Stemo

I shoot lasers at molecules.


Garrek Stemo

I’m a PhD candidate at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan at the Quantum Materials Science Laboratory researching interactions between light and matter vibrations in organic liquids. Under certain conditions, these interactions form “vibrational polaritons”, which are hybrid quasi-particles that have mixed material and photon properties — pretty cool. I use femtosecond laser spectroscopy (a type of laser with a very very short pulse width. You might even say it’s ultrashort) to study what happens when molecules of different types couple to quantized light. I’m interested in how these systems evolve over very short time intervals after they are initially excited by a laser pulse. Vibrational polariton research is still pretty new, so it’s exciting any time there’s a new paper out.

I spend a lot of time at the optics table, but I also write my own analysis workflows using Python in Jupyter Lab. I also wrote my own multi-layered optics simulation (transfer matrix method) to complement my experiments, which calculates the transmittance or reflectance spectrum of an electric wave going through layers of optical media.

As a PhD candidate I mentor some of the other students. This is fun because it forces me to finally learn physics vocabulary in Japanese (English is not the first language in my lab).

The figures on this site were generated by me in OmniGraffle with LaTeX for in-figure equations.