02.09.15 | KTiOPO4

Post 770: 40/365

You might wonder why this post with photos of our new “pet” fish that we got tonight is named after a nonlinear optical material which is commonly used for frequency doubling diode pumped solid-state lasers. Well, let me explain.

After picking out three fish at the pet store, my kids wanted to name them. My daughter named the orange one “Jackson.” My son and I named another one (not in any of these photos) “Flambo” because he has a tail that looks like a flame. And then my son was given the task of naming the last one – a little guy with a glowing green-ish yellow color.

I suggested “Highlighter” or “Glow Stick” but he didn’t like either of those names. He was determined to give the fish a meaningful name – one that was interesting and worthy of such a bright color, since this was the fish he had specifically selected at the store.

My son is very interested in the elements and the periodic table so I asked if there were any elements that glowed green or yellow. We scoured his copy of The Elements and The Elements Vault and couldn’t find something that he was happy with.

And then I remembered my dad.

I remembered a time he took me to his office and brought me into the lab to show me something he said was amazing. He lit up a red laser and aimed it through a crystal he was developing called KTP and the laser turned green. I looked at him like, “Yeah, so what.” (I think I was in middle or early high school – sometime in the 1980s – and wasn’t all that interested in lasers. Go figure) I could NOT understand why he was so excited about making green light. He tried to explain to me that this crystal, and the fact that it could turn the red light to a green light, was very important, and had tons of potential applications!!!! (Exclamation points added by me to show how excited he was when he was explaining this to me.)

Anyway, while the experiment he showed me that day wasn’t all that interesting to me at the time, that specific visit to his lab has stayed with me. So I told my son about it and suggested he could name the fish KTP, or KTiOPO4, as a reference to the green laser. Not surprisingly, he liked the idea.

So the greenish-yellow fish (seen in the picture below – I’ve learned it’s very very difficult to take photos of fish) is named KTiOPO4, but we call her Katie.

02.09.15

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4 comments

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was such a funny visit to his lab. I was honestly not the least bit impressed with the green light and I couldn’t understand why he thought it was so amazing. I guess that’s the typical mind of a middle school girl, though. NOW I understand. 🙂

  1. What a wonderful memory you had with your Dad. A great story to share with your son. I am glad I read past that first sentence (I had no clue what you were talking about) to hear “the rest of the story”. Beautiful fish. I think I will call her Katie 😉

    1. I figured it needed explanation. Thankfully they are still alive – we had a scare last weekend when the filter stopped working and the water got all cloudy. Everything is back to normal again now, though, and they seem very happy.

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