Journal of Undergraduate Research


light source, Hanbury Brown and Twiss effect, HBT, photomultiplier


Physical and Mathematical Sciences


Physics and Astronomy


In 1956, Hanbury Brown and Twiss (HBT) published a paper1 on a method of determining the angular size of a star by comparing the intensities gathered from two detectors. They used this effect by using two photomultiplier tubes and by increasing the distance between them, saw a drop in the correlation between the currents. Because the correlations are made by the interference at the detectors but only the intensity is measured, the effect is sometimes referred to as intensity interferometry.

The idea arose to use the HBT effect to teach undergraduates various principles of light in a lab setting. The application of this effect would allow students to experiment easily with temporal and spatial coherence, correlation, angular size and the frequency spectrum of light.

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