PhD student at CEFOP joins team of the Physics 2012 Nobel prize

“Were all in shock from happiness,” were the words that the young researcher, Carla Hermann, said from the French laboratory Kastler Brossel, of the École Normale Supérieure, where she is doing her PhD.

“I was there for two months doing an internship, and then I got accepted into the PhD program. I’ve been working here for two years now. This stage is very important for me, for my career, and of course as a life experience.  Being able to work here is really a privilege,” explained Carla Hermann Avigliano, the young researcher from the Center for Optics and Photonics (CEFOP) and the doctoral program in physical sciences at the University of Concepción, and who is doing the experimental part of her PhD in the cavity quantum electrodynamics group of the Kastler Brossel laboratory at the École Normale Supérieure in France, which is directed by Serge Haroche, the 2012 Nobel Laureate in physics.

The researcher pointed out that while the news was expected, it was for all a big surprise. “We were all in shock from happiness. The news, for all the students, is tremendous; it is something incredible to do a doctorate with the group of a Nobel prize winner.” Carla Hermann is working on her thesis in the laboratory directed by Haroche, under the tutelage of researchers Jean – Michel Raimond, a team member of the Nobel Prize recipient, and the Scientific Director of CEFOP, Dr. Carlos Saavedra Rubilar, from Chile.

Dr. Saavedra explained that, “When we were thinking of a place for Carla’s doctoral studies, we had intended to look for one which was at a world class level. Where our researcher is now is a laboratory directed by a Nobel Prize, which is part of a larger group that also has Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who was a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. Now, this new Nobel verifies the global leadership of the Center.”

But this creates a greater challenge, as the Scientific Director of CEFOP explained, since, “These research groups have programs with 30-year periods, and with budgets that exceed any possibility in Chile, so they require very talented students, such as Carla, for this kind of world class training, but at the same time, the students must also be able to insert themselves into research groups of different realities.”

Reception from the scientific world

“The news was a pleasant surprise, excellent for the whole community  of quantum optics, because recently we have received a significant number of Nobel prizes in this area, precisely because we have reached a level of technological progress which allows the control of interactions: in the case of Serge Haroche, atoms and fields, and in the case of David Wineland, the controlled interactions are in terms of ions and electromagnetic fields,” Dr. Carlos Saavedra said on the news of the 2012 Nobel for Physics.

Dr. Saavedra has had the opportunity to interact with both; however, he is most familiar with the work of Haroche, “because it was my initial work in the field of quantum optics after my PhD, which was basically on collective interactions between atoms and fields, thinking at that time on the next generation of experiments, both in the group of Herber Walther at Max Planck in Munich, and with Haroche, in Paris. This stage of planning was in the 1990s, and only this year the Haroche team is arriving at the possibility to carry out part of the experiments that we proposed. For this reason, we now have planned to work much more closely with them, and in particular with two researchers in his group, Jean-Michel Raimond and Michel Brune, along with Carla Hermann, and more recently Nataly Cisternas, a Master’s student in Physics.”

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