Holometer team develops new laser-based cutting technique

Ray Tomlin tunes the laser in the Holometer lab. Photo: "Headless" Reidar Hahn

Ray Tomlin tunes the laser in the Holometer lab. Photo: “Headless” Reidar Hahn

Just in time for Halloween, Fermilab’s Holometer collaboration has finished the first test run of a new laser-based technique to cut materials with soft tissue and hard surfaces.

Experimenting in the Holometer laser lab located near the Meson Building, Ray Tomlin and his colleagues successfully used a 2,000-watt laser to cut intricate patterns into leather, pumpkins and candy bars.

“We are thrilled,” said Aaron Chou, who is the spokesperson for the Holometer collaboration. “We’ve spent months tuning the laser and eliminating background noise. Now we finally are in a position to demonstrate that our laser is ready to test the fabric of the universe and cut leather for a suit.”

Originally designed to look for the structure of space at the smallest scales, the precision laser displayed its extraordinary qualities when collaboration member Ray Tomlin put on his safety glasses and placed an apple into the laser beam. Within seconds, the laser produced perfectly shaped apple slices, and the scent of apple cider spread across the lab.

“I will never forget that moment,” Tomlin said. “My colleagues handed me the caramel dip, and it was heaven.”

Fermilab employees interested in learning more about this laser application are invited to attend a cutting demonstration at 8 p.m. tonight, Oct. 31, at the laser lab. The Holometer team would appreciate if attendees brought extra pumpkins and candy.