Quantum computing and quantum communication applications often require the carriers of information, or qubits, to have specific properties. Photonic quantum states are good carriers of information because they are robust to environmental fluctuations, but generating photons with just the right properties is still a challenge. I will present our work towards this goal on a photon-pair source based on off-the-shelf optical fibers. We recently characterized the photon-pairs emitted by this source using a newly suggested stimulated technique with unprecedented efficiency and resolution. I will also present results from time-domain, single-excitation spectroscopy experiments in liquids that provide an alternative and in some cases simpler method for measuring vibrational coherence dynamics. Finally, I will present measurements of the change in the magnetization of thin film ferromagnetic / heavy metal bilayers due to spin-orbit interactions obtained using our recently developed optical magnetometer.