Dr. Sebastian Blatt - MPQ
Briefly describe the your current position and research project,
I lead a research team at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Immanuel Bloch's Quantum Many-Body Physics Division. Since 2015, we have been working on a new kind of Quantum Simulator using ultracold strontium atoms in optical lattices. If you would like to learn more about what we do, have a look at our website, ultracold.sr
How does a typical workday look like for you?
As an experimental physicist, I enjoy that I can work on many different subjects on a given day. We get to play with very precise lasers, optics, low-noise electronics, analysis of large data sets, mechanical engineering, equipment acquisition, teaching, plumbing, quantum mechanics, hardware programming, and writing. We also get to present our work in conferences or seminars, although that happens online these days. On a good day, most of my time is spent in discussions and problem-solving with the individual team members from the bachelor to the postdoc level.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame/ recently?
One of my visions for our experiment is to overcome the limitations in system sizes accessible to quantum simulators based on ultracold atoms in optical lattices. We have been working on a new hardware solution for this problem over the last five years, based on a new kind of monolithic in-vacuum optical resonator. Our latest results clearly show that all our work has paid off and I am very excited to try all our ideas for quantum simulations based on this new technology.
Tell us a bit about the Quantum Science Seminar series and the motivation behind it.
In Spring 2020 it became quite clear that all in-person conferences and workshops for the Summer would have to be cancelled. Our American colleagues reacted very quickly and started the virtual AMO seminar (VAMOS) on April 3rd. Unfortunately, the time slot for their wonderful seminar is not very convenient for European time zones. I contacted a few colleagues, and together we brainstormed what to do. We wanted to bring the kind of high-level, but broadly understandable presentation of a plenary speaker at a major conference to everybody, from the Master student to the senior researcher. On April 16th, we had our first presentation by Ignacio Cirac, and we continue to have a presentation every Thursday at 17:00. I think that we have been successful in sharing our excitement for the field with everybody, and in particular with many students in developing countries who typically would not have access to this material. If you have not seen the Quantum Science Seminar yet, I highly recommend checking out all previous talks, slides, and Q&A sessions on our website at quantumscienceseminar.com.