MPHQ Graduate Exchanges

Below our PhD exchange students are reporting on their exchange experience to our partners at Harvard

Johannes Knörzer was awarded with the first MPHQ travelling grant and just completed his PhD Harvard exchange recently. He visited our partners in Harvard in April 2018

What were the major scientific aspects of your research stay at Harvard Johannes?

Johannes Knörzer (MPHQ PhD exchange student) Zoom Image
Johannes Knörzer (MPHQ PhD exchange student)

During my stay in Prof. Lukin’s research group, I’ve had the pleasure to learn about and discuss various aspects of the diverse research activities at Harvard. In stimulating discussions with Prof. Mikhail Lukin and his group members, I have received valuable input both from experimentalists and other theorists. In close collaboration with Prof. Lukin, his Post-Doc M. Schuetz (formerly at MPQ),  and other group members, we have worked on and finalized a joint research project between the Cirac and Lukin groups investigating solid-state architectures for quantum simulation. Already in this short preliminary period, we have developed fresh ideas for new research projects on quantum technologies and platforms based on a novel class of atomically thin semiconductors.

What was the most vital scientific added value you derived from the exchange? 

In numerous fruitful discussions and inspiring talks given by Harvard researchers and visiting scholars, I have been exposed to many different research directions and open problems in current quantum optics research. This is also thanks to a welcoming atmosphere and wide range of research topics covered at Harvard. Since many of the technologically most promising and relevant platforms for physical implementations of quantum science are present at Harvard and in the labs of the Lukin group, my research stay has not only provided me an excellent overview of state-of-the-art experiments in quantum optics and quantum-information science, but has also been extremely useful for my own research on novel implementations of quantum science.

How will the exchange enrich your scientific work at MPQ?

My visit has brought me in contact with exciting research and researchers, both in theory and experiment, and triggered new project ideas which we will continue working on in close collaboration with the Lukin research group. I’ve had the pleasure to make interesting new acquaintances with scientists from vastly different scientific backgrounds, illustrating the interdisciplinary character of a significant portion of the work carried out in quantum optics and, more general, in quantum science, which I find truly enriching.

Will your stay lead to any prospective collaborations or joint publications with the visited group(s) at Harvard?

Together with Prof. Lukin, members of the Lukin group, and my supervisor Prof. Cirac, we have initiated a collaborative research project, which we will continue to work on after my stay. The project lies at the heart of current 2D material research and technology and brings together the expertise from both groups at Harvard and MPQ.

What did you like the most about the exchange from a personal perspective?

From a personal perspective, I am most grateful for all of the pleasant encounters with  interesting and kind people who conveyed to me the open research culture at Harvard. Also, in and around Cambridge and Boston, there are many regular cultural and sports events taking place; for Jazz enthusiasts like me, the daily concerts make the Cambridge area a true El Dorado.

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Nicola Pancotti (PhD student Ignacio Cirac) is currently on his first MPHQ visit and will remain at Harvard for three months. More information on his exchange visit will be published soon! Zoom Image
Nicola Pancotti (PhD student Ignacio Cirac) is currently on his first MPHQ visit and will remain at Harvard for three months. More information on his exchange visit will be published soon! [less]

Please shortly describe the major scientific aspects of your research stay at Harvard?

During my research visit at Harvard I had the opportunity to be in touch and to work side by side with some of the leading scientists in my field, such as Prof. Demler, Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Marino, Prof. Lukin and others. I enjoyed a very welcoming atmosphere where everybody is encouraged to share their ideas and their interests, our different scientific backgrounds were an asset rather than a disadvantage.
Visiting Prof. Demler’s group in particular gave me the chance to widely broaden my knowledge and to find
  unexpected applications of methods I have been developing in the past to problems in the forefront of research.  Our focus was mainly on machine learning algorithms for the study of interacting electron systems. And the emergence of chaos in systems of interacting spins.
 

What was the most vital scientific added value you derived from the exchange?

In contact with such a dynamic research environment one can appreciate how ideas from different fields of physics and science can merge together and contribute to the scientific progress in a positive way. The tight collaboration among different groups at Harvard, such as Lukin’s and Demler’s groups, creates a fertile ground where abstract thinking, mathematical modeling and practical implementations grow and prosper. Within this community I learned to challenge myself to find novel applications to my work and to continuously strive against biases that someone might inherit from a unidirectional education.   

How will the exchange enrich your scientific work at MPQ?

I came back to MPQ with several new projects which span from Quantum Machine Learning and Solid State Physics to Tensor Networks and Quantum Chaos. I am having an intense correspondence with people at Harvard, and we are already planning further visits in Cambridge and Munich.
Back at MPQ I noticed that many of the techniques I learned and developed at Harvard might be of interest for other people in my own group. I have already started to share them with my colleagues, and they seem very promising.

Will your stay lead to any prospective collaborations or joint publications with the visited group(s) at Harvard?

I am now in close connection with postdocs and professors both at MPQ and at Harvard in order to develop and finalize the research projects we started in Cambridge. Some of these collaborations involve Prof. Demler, also distinguished scholar at MPQ,  Dr. Richard Schmidt, former postdoc at Harvard and now group leader at MPQ, Dr. Dries Sels and Dr. Jamir Marino, postdocs at  Harvard. This experience was a unique opportunity to discuss ideas with several other people both at Harvard and MIT. The hope is that they will lead to successful research projects in a near future.

What did you like the most about the exchange from a personal perspective?

As it was my first long term visit in USA, I was both excited and afraid at the same time. I soon realized how easy it is to meet new people in Cambridge. I encountered many students and young researchers who share similar passions as I do. I was amazed by how easy it was to meet people who could entertain you with interesting conversations about law, neuroscience or engineering.  In such a small town are concentrated some of the brightest minds in the planet. It makes no effort to meet famous scientists or nobel laureates when attending talks at Harvard or MIT.
Finally, a sport addict as I am could not enjoy more the incredible sport facilities that Harvard can offer. Swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, football pitches are just a few examples.
  

 

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Joannis Koepsell (MPHQ PhD exchange student) Zoom Image
Joannis Koepsell (MPHQ PhD exchange student)

As part of the MPHQ PhD exchange program Joannis Koepsell visited the PIs Eugene Demler and Markus Greiner at Harvard for a duration of 2 weeks.

Please shortly describe the major scientific aspects of your research stay at Harvard?

In the Fermi Gas Microscope laboratory of Prof. Immanuel Bloch at MPQ we experimentally explore the Fermi-Hubbard model. This model describes strongly-correlated electronic systems and is believed to capture essential aspects of high temperature superconductivity. The group of Prof. Eugene Demler at Harvard University develops new theoretical approaches to enable efficient numerical simulation in the doped regime. In the group of Prof. Markus Greiner a similar experimental setup to ours exists and their previous studies are closely related to our current research. During my stay I could benefit from many theoretical as well as technical discussions with experts in the same field of research.

What was the most vital scientific added value you derived from the exchange?

I enjoyed to spend time on extended and lively discussions on small details as well as on the big picture of our field of research. Also getting to know the broader atomic and optical research community at Harvard was a valuable experience. Having a look at the technical developments in the laboratories of Markus Greiner was also very inspiring.

How will the exchange enrich your scientific work at MPQ?

At that time, we were already involved in a collaboration with the group of Eugene Demler on magnetic polarons in the two-dimensional Fermi-Hubbard model. We could use the exchange to establish a more accurate comparison between numerical simulations of Fabian Grusdt and our experimental data. Our results are now submitted and available on the arXiv preprint-server.

Will your stay lead to any prospective collaborations or joint publications with the visited group(s) at Harvard?

The collaboration on magnetic polarons was submitted recently. During my stay I also met other theorists and experimentalists, which are tackling similar problems we are investigating back home at the Max-Planck-Institute. We are still in vivid contact and I hope that many new projects will benefit from the lively exchange with the Harvard community.

What did you like the most about the exchange from a personal perspective?

The open mindedness and motivating environment in the research community as well as the many new friends I made during this stay.

 
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