Meet an employee
This month's contribution is associate professor Aurelien Romain Dantan
Tell us about your path to IFA
I was born and raised in Jura, in eastern France. I moved to Paris to study at the Ecole Polytechnique and did my PhD at Université Paris VI (which is now part of the Paris Sorbonne). After my PhD and another year as a postdoc in Paris, I came to Aarhus in 2006 to work in Michael Drewsen's Ion trap group.
What was the motivation behind your choice of job?
Michael's group had at that time an exciting quantum optics project with cold ions in optical cavities, which was dense, but different from the one I had worked with in France, and which involved cold, neutral atoms. There was another offer then in Barcelona, but it ended up being the City of Smiles rather than the Costa del Sol!
What is the best thing about your job?
Well, I'm now very fond of physics! I enjoy all the aspects related to physics teaching—from lectures, supervision to student symposia to planning teaching. I also love to do research and look forward every morning when I go to work to see what the day brings in terms of discoveries. And in terms of both teaching and research, IFA is a very good place to be with many committed students and many good and helpful colleagues.
Talk about your research/work. What is the most exciting thing you have experienced?
In my group we work with nanomechanical oscillators, the vibrations of which we typically study with the help of light, and which we utilise, for example, to build sensitive sensors. What I like most about these relatively simple systems is that they make it possible to investigate fundamental aspects of physics, while at the same time being able to use them for practical purposes. One of the most exciting research moments was the first time we could observe the so-called "strong coupling" between light and an ion crystal. We had fought for a long time about this, and to be able to see it "live" on the screen in the laboratory was great. It was also celebrated with champagne!
Where is your favourite place at IFA?
I love my lab, even though it's in a dark basement, and even though it's not where I spend most of my time at IFA.