Amanda White is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at CU Boulder and a George Ellery Hale Fellow at the National Solar Observatory. She is interested in telescope instrumentation and how the development of new instruments and observing techniques can push the limits of science.
For her thesis, Amanda is looking at how optical coatings affect the polarization behavior of instruments and, in the case of DKIST, telescopes. Every piece of glass on DKIST is coated with some material that helps to increase performance or acts as a protective covering. Each of those coatings makes a small change on the signal we observe from the Sun and makes an impact on DKIST's ability to make precise measurements of polarization. Understanding instrument systematics, or what changes are made to the observations BY our telescope and instruments, is imperative to calibration and observing "real" Solar signals. Amanda is studying how the refractive index, thickness, and other properties of coatings can be changed to increase polarization accuracy over a larger field of view.