Sholeh Razavian | Meet the MCQSTians: In this series, we regularly feature members of the MCQST community and offer insights into their research and career.
"I am a theoretical physicist with a deep fascination for the experimental side of the field."
Dr. Sholeh Razavian earned her PhD at Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University, focusing on quantum correlation dynamics and estimation theory for examining specific phenomena in open quantum systems. She later received a DAAD PRIME scholarship and worked at Aarhus and Copenhagen University of Denmark and LMU Munich, extending two-photon interference studies to multi-photon interference and decoherence effects. Currently, she continues her research at MCQST with Harald Weinfurter, utilizing integrated photonic waveguides to simulate and analyze decoherence sources in open quantum systems. Since 2023, Sholeh is an MCQST Distinguished Postdoc. We invited her to talk about her current research, her passion for science, and the advice she’d give to people just starting their research careers.
Can you briefly explain your research project?
My research focuses on modelling the interaction between the quantum system and environment using different degrees of freedom to study multi-particle open quantum systems. The importance of thoroughly examining the interaction between a quantum system and its surroundings is clear, as this understanding is vital for advancing quantum technology. During my previous research, I utilized techniques from quantum correlation dynamics and estimation theory to examine specific physical phenomena in open quantum systems. Now we are considering multi-photon interference including decoherence effects. The polarized photons propagate in integrated waveguide arrays with polarization-dependent coupling. We analyze multiphoton coincidence measurements using Boson sampling schemes and sample from the probability distribution in order to investigate polarization-dependent decoherence of the total quantum state and demonstrate how the entanglement between the path and polarization degrees of freedom causes polarization decoherence along the waveguide arrays. Here we use simulation and theoretical work to optimize the experiment. On the other hand, we are also focusing on various experimental methods for characterizing optical chips. The goal is to evaluate different methods and propose more applicable and optimal theories to characterize optical chips.
Describe your day-to-day work. What keeps you excited to keep working on your project each day?
I am a theoretical physicist with a deep fascination for the experimental side of the field. This project has provided me with a unique opportunity to pursue both aspects of my passion. My daily work varies depending on my program's agenda. Typically, I allocate weekdays to reading literature and doing simulations, alongside the thrilling experience of working in the lab. One of the highlights of my day is dedicating nighttime hours to online courses covering a diverse range of subjects.
Of course, like everyone else, there are days when my productivity wanes. Over time, I've developed various strategies to overcome procrastination and clarify my purpose in life. These are simple habits like doing regular exercise, and reading the biographies of accomplished individuals. The key is to build a connection between our goals and daily routines and just enjoy the process.
"My journey to Munich began thanks to the invaluable support of MCQST, which has been one of the most remarkable opportunities of my life"
Did you always want to be a (quantum) scientist when you were younger? Moreover, if you weren't a scientist, what do you think you would be doing now?
During my childhood, I was captivated by the world of insects and animals. I would spend countless hours observing their behavior and digging into the soil in search of discoveries during the day, while at night, I'd gaze up at the sky. The excitement of learning new things was a driving force in my life and as time passed, each decision narrowed the road and led me closer to the realms of mathematics and physics. Then I stumbled upon the quantum world, as Milburn described it “the source of mystery and confusion and all sorts of strange paradoxes”. So, I found the strength within me to try to understand this weird world.
Maybe I can use a many-worlds interpretation here and say that there is a world in which I am a florist; it is not me but a version of me. However, with a very low amplitude world and very small probability. While in another, with different shuffling of the atoms, I stand as a champion in a racket sports. Yet, in the world we inhabit, my most probable path is dedicated to research — a journey I eagerly embrace.
What drew you to Munich and MCQST?
My journey to Munich began thanks to the invaluable support of MCQST, which has been one of the most remarkable opportunities of my life. It all started in 2020 when I made my initial visit to Munich as a guest researcher. This opportunity was made possible through the support of Jasmin Meinecke as a START fellow within Prof. Harald Weinfurter's research group. Our collaboration did not end there. Following my time in Munich, I pursued further research also in collaboration with LMU, with the aid of a DAAD-PRIME scholarship during my stay in Denmark. Subsequently, I returned to Munich once again, with ongoing support from MCQST.
Outside of science, what do you enjoy doing most?
I have a deep appreciation for nature during my free time, and often spend weekends hiking, swimming, or simply immersing myself in the great outdoors. I also enjoy the leisurely pastime of watching movies, which provides a wonderful way to unwind. Sports, particularly those involving rackets like badminton and tennis, captivate my interest. While cooking or cycling, I like listening to audiobooks or engaging with insightful podcasts.
"I firmly believe that we must let go of the fear of imperfection, recognizing that the pursuit of perfection can obstruct the path to excellence."
What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their physics career?
I came across a profound concept in a book that highlighted the most challenging form of disability—one where you possess the ability, but are hindered by external circumstances, a cruel injustice in opportunities. However, life is beyond our control. Instead of dwelling on these challenges, we should strive to embrace our own imperfections and the circumstances we face. This acceptance allows us to tap into our creativity and become the best versions of ourselves. I firmly believe that we must let go of the fear of imperfection, recognizing that the pursuit of perfection can obstruct the path to excellence.
In my view, dreams have the power to shape our reality. We first envision our aspirations, then work tirelessly to manifest them in the real world. To achieve our desires, we must fuel our journey with passion and savor each moment. It is through this enthusiasm that we continually grow, gaining wisdom and skills that enable us to progress toward our goals .