Utilizing Mach-Zehnder Interferometer to determine heavy metal content in water

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A set of lab scaling tools used for trials at Optical Physics Laboratory, Faculty of Science and Technology, Campus C UNAIR. (Photo: Personal Documentation.)

UNAIR NEWS – Mach-Zehnder Interferometer is one of the practical tools in Physics Laboratory of Faculty of Science and Technology, Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR). This tool is often used for lab work in the field of optics to determine the variation of relative phase shift by separating light from a source.

In its development, Herri Trilaksana, S.Si., M.Si., Ph.D, Physics lecturer of UNAIR tried to present an innovation to students regarding the use of Mach-Zehnder Interferometer, as a tool for determining levels of heavy metals in water.

“To provide innovation to students on how to make something new from existing teaching or educational equipment, into something that increases their capacity. That is making educational scale equipment suitable for research scale equipment, “he said.

Divided into two processes

The research that has been running since mid-2019 is divided into two different stages. First, it is based on the construction of an instrument system that uses an Arduino microcontroller device to command Mach Zehnder interferometer equipment.

“This stage has been completed and has been tested for synthetic samples at the laboratory level,” explained the Head of Physics Department.

Lendy Pradhana Hartono, one of the students taking part in the research, said that the interferometer which divides the light beams (laser, ed) from one source was directed to something to be measured. The two beams of light were put back together and undergone a change in path and found that the superposition (merging, ed) between the two beams was different.

“In this study, one of the beams was passed to the liquid which we stained with cadmium. When a concentration of cadmium exists , its superposition changes. The result of the superposition forms a round fringe or image that will change or flash. The changes in the fringe are analyzed, ” said the Physics student.

The mathematical results, the refractive index results, gained from the fringe blinks. The refractive index will determine whether the sample is really pure water or has impurities in it. The second stage is in the application section for environmental sample analysis.

The test was carried out ten times with a concentration of 0.5-5 ppm (parts per million, ed) where each concentration was tested 5 times.

The fringe results obtained from the research. (Photo:Personal Doc.)

Collaborating with universities abroad

For research management, Heri explained that at the moment, laboratories outside the physics department have not been involved because it’s still focused on electronic instrumentation.

Furthermore, there will be collaborations with several chemical laboratories to test the reliability of the results. So far for this study, a collaboration has been done with Prof. Kenneth Grattan in City, University of London in England.

Herri hopes that with the Arduino-based mach zehnder interferometer equipment, inexpensive sample measurements can be done compared existing methods with better or higher accuracy than existing ones.

Herri Trilaksana, a lecturer in Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology, UNAIR. (Photo: Personal Doc.)

“The second hope is that we will be able to modify some of the equipment in the photonics lab which was originally only at the learning level to become suitable equipment for use in research,” concluded the lecturer who focuses on optics. (*)

Author: Asthesia Dhea Cantika

Editor : Binti Q. Masruroh

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