City College Graduate Continues Study of Physics at CUNY in Photonics — Charanjot Singh

by Christopher Edwards

Charanjot Singh always knew he wanted to be a scientist. Singh spent his early years in the Punjab region of India, learning as much as he could about the way things worked.

“I spent most of my time just fiddling around with toys and electronics, like broken appliances,” he said in an interview. “And I was often curious how they worked internally.”

This May, Singh graduated from City College with a Bachelor of Science in physics. He has spent the past two years studying and conducting research in Physics, and now he’s preparing to continue his research in the CUNY system. He will begin his Ph.D. program at the Graduate Center this August.

Singh first decided to come to CCNY after watching YouTube videos of renowned City College physics professor Dr. Michio Kaku.

“By the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a physicist because, for me, exploring fundamentals was the most important thing, and physics is the most fundamental you can go in terms of sciences,” he said.

Singh began his undergraduate education at CCNY in January of 2019. He intended to begin his research with Dr. Vinod Menon in the summer of 2020, but this was postponed by COVID-19. Singh officially began his research in the summer of 2021.

Singh went on to take the research honors course under Menon’s guidance, studying the effects on the optical properties of thin materials when strain is placed on them. He also studied excitons, an electronic excitation that occurs when a laser or photon is sent to a material. This can also emit a photon through photoluminescence.

“We saw that the absorption energies changed under strain for the excitons” he said. “We also saw that the photoluminescence increased up by almost 100-fold under the strain.”

In March, Singh presented his research thesis for the class at the American Physical Society conference in Las Vegas, where he was one of the winners of the top presenter award. At the conference, Singh said he was able to network with recruiters from IBM and other companies.

“It was a really valuable experience because I got to see what life lies ahead of your college degree” he said. “How it’s used in the professional world and how it impacts the industrial world.”

Charanjot Singh with the other top presenter winners at the American Physical Society conference.

This fall, Singh will be studying silicon photonics in a new lab under Dr. Qiushi Guo. The work is largely applied in the semiconductor, telecommunications and biomedical industries.

“What I’ve been doing so far was more like fundamental research on materials,” he said. “That was studying properties of materials, but now I’ll be working on creating applications using light and matter that you can actually use in the industrial scale.”

Though he always planned to become a professor after completing his studies, Singh now sees himself working in a research position for a company like IBM, Quantium or Google.

“After coming to New York, I saw that there was a broad spectrum of things I could do with my degree and now I’m leaning more towards working in the industry, but still doing research,” he said.


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