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Kunal Soni - Project at IPFN in Lisbon

Project in the Quantum Plasma Lab at IPFN - Lisbon, Portugal
Reported by Kunal Soni. Powered by FuseNet.

Last summer I got the opportunity to carry out a project at the Instituto Superior Technico (IST) in Lisbon, for which I received FuseNet support. Before I came to Europe, I didn't know much about Portugal, let alone that I had ever thought about visiting the country. But after spending a year in Nancy in France, I felt the need to explore Southern Europe during the summer, which I wanted to combine with some work in plasma physics. Fortunately, my wish was granted when Prof. Tito Mendonca from IST Lisbon offered me an internship position at the Quantum Plasma Lab at IPFN.

Welcome to Lisbon

The city of Lisbon is truly magical: never before have I been in a place with such beautiful weather, amazing food and great culture, all together. Prof. Tito and his students made sure that I immediately felt welcome and they were very accommodating to me. During our first meeting, Prof. Tito explained me in an amazing fashion which experiments were done in the lab, and he gave me all freedom to decide on how I wanted to approach my project. After getting a good idea of the work done in the lab, we collectively decided that the topic of my project would become: "temperature measurements of laser cooled atoms".


Temperature measurements of laser cooled atoms.

The project mainly consisted of simulation work, mostly carried out with MATLAB. Previously, I had always been weary of involving myself in computational projects, but this particular internship completely changed my opinion about that. I absolutely loved learning and implementing computational work in MATLAB, something of which I had only little prior knowledge. The researchers in the group were very helpful in making sure that I fully understood the experiments, allowing me to be there while they conducted the experiments.

The experimental setup being used at IPFN

The goal of these experiments was to estimate the temperature of an atomic cloud inside a Magneto-Optical Trap (MOT) using images of the cloud collected by cameras. The evolution of the atomic cloud was recorded as function of time by a series of subsequent pictures. Also the detuning of the lasers was varied to find the temperature of the cloud as function of the changing detuning. This experiment was repeated for three different values of ∇B. Most of my project was dedicated to calculating the temperature of the laser cooled atoms in MATLAB, using the data collected from the experiment by a 'Time of Flight'-technique. In the beginning, it was a rather difficult for me, because I didn’t have a lot of experience with simulations, but with some help of the group, I started to get a hang of the work and slowly I started progressing towards the eventual goal of my project.

The Portugese Summer

Apart from my work in the lab, I had a pretty good time exploring the city, as well as getting to know the Portuguese culture and language. During my time in Lisbon, I witness Portugal's victory in the Euro2016 championships. The following festivals were out of this world; the Portugese really knew how to celebrate and I was glad that I could be part of the celebrations.


Furthermore, I also had some time to travel around the country, while visiting different cities, which was an amazing thing to do. It really made my time in Portugal even better than it already was. I am sure that I will cherish this experience for the rest of my life and I am very grateful to FuseNet for providing me with the opportunity to carry out my project in Lisbon.