High school research projects

Discover how ICFO can help you with your project:
there are many opportunities waiting for you!

At ICFO, we use photons to better understand our world and to generate new technologies to improve our society. If you want to do the same, you can start from these photonics-related projects that we have selected for you.

We also provide you with a selection of links to bright ideas that may inspire you to create new projects.

If you have already your idea, but you need to clarify some doubts, we can put you in contact with some photonics experts that can answer your questions.

Please let us know how it went: share your project on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ICFOoutreach or show us the result at the Young Photonics Congress organized by ICFO.

photonics projects

Photonics is everywhere! There are many science and technology projects related to photonics you can develop with our support and advice with materials that are easy to find at home or at school.

Choose one of the following projects and sign-up to one of the kick-off sessions: one of our experts will introduce you the topic and provide you with instructions to develop the project at your own pace. You can also contact with us email in case you have any further doubt.

The kick-off session will be an online meeting open to small groups (maximum 3 students), so that you’ll have all the time to ask your questions and clarify your doubts.

Below you can find a selection of hands-on activities related to different aspects of photonics that can be the basis of an original and creative research project.

EXPLORE MATTER WITH DIFFRACTION

Light is a powerful tool to understand the microscopic structure of matter: in this activity, you will use a macroscopic model to see how diffraction reveals us information about very small objects, like for example the DNA double-helix structure.

COMMUNICATE SECURELY THANKS TO QUANTUM PHYSICS

Sending ultra-secure messages is one of the most promising applications of quantum physics. We propose simple activities with household materials to understand how (classical) cryptography works and a simple approach to understand how quantum physics can improve classical cryptography. If you’re into coding, you may also simulate a quantum cryptography protocol.

TINKER WITH GRAPHENE

Graphene is an amazing material. This 2D material has a one-atom thick carbon structure that is 200 times stronger than steel, but is at the same time transparent and very light, presenting extraordinary electrical and thermal properties. All these characteristics in just one material make graphene a very promising tool for the development of new technologies.
In this activity, you can make some graphene and then observe it with the microscope.

SLITS, DIFFRACTION AND INTERFERENCE

Observing what happens to light when passing through a small hole reveals important information about its wave-like nature. In this activity you can tinker with the diffraction phenomena to learn more about light and the basic principle behind a very useful photonic technology, such as the spectrometer.

BUILD ONE OF THE MOST SENSITIVE INSTRUMENTS

The Michelson interferometer was designed more than one hundred years ago to find the answer to one fundamental question of physics: is the space completely empty or filled with ether? More recently, in 2015, they used this same kind of interferometer to observe gravitational waves for the first time. In this activity, you can build a Michelson interferometer with your own hands.

MEASURE TINY OBJECTS WITH A LASER

Lasers are very versatile tools that are at the core of many present technologies: that’s one of the reasons why photonics is so important for our lives. In this activity you can use a laser to measure very small things like the diameter of a hair or the size of the grooves of a CD.

UNLOCK THE INFORMATION IN COLORS

There is a lot of information in the color composition of a light source: scientists all around the world use it for different purposes and applications, from food safety to understanding the chemical composition of the farthest objects in the Universe. In this activity, you will build your own spectrometer to compare different light sources.

If you have in mind some other photonics-related project or you can’t find a suitable date in the calendar, just contact us!

bright IDEAS

Do you want to research light and its properties, but you don’t know where to start from?
Here you’ll find some resources to inspire you for your next project.

Photonics experts

If your research project is related to one of the topics that we research here at ICFO, we can put you in contact with one of our researchers.

Summer stages

Students can have the possibility of a summer stage at ICFO by applying to one of these programs:

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