Human of #univie Tomas: When do things go quantum?

“We have all heard of the weirdness of quantum mechanics. Things that appear to be in multiple places simultaneously, others that are correlated over long distances, properties that manifest only when you measure them and particles behaving like waves… But why do we not see such things in our everyday lives? When do things “go quantum”?

To answer this question, at the University of Vienna we carry out experiments with big molecules and demonstrate their quantum behaviour. We show that these molecules behave like waves. We currently hold the world record for the biggest molecule to behave like a quantum wave, composed of about 2,000 atoms. I am currently working on a next-generation source, detector and laser system to push the limits even further.

In practice, this meant moving into an empty lab and building everything from scratch. Working on tabletop experiments is a very enriching experience. I sometimes joke that I am not only a physicist – I am also a programmer, designer, mechanic, electrician and so many other things. At the Quantum Nanophysics group, I get to do different tasks every day and work in a very international environment.

Throughout my bachelor’s in Physics, I was not sure which area I would like to pursue in the future. I did many internships in different domains, including particle physics, gravitational waves, computational physics, condensed matter and quantum optics. I decided to stay at the University of Vienna for my master’s degree in Physics after one of those internships. Now, I work in one of the most reputable groups in this area while doing my master’s degree.

If you are studying, and you are not sure what you want to do in the future, consider doing internships. They are great since they allow you not only to gain work experience but also to help you decide what you like doing the most. You meet different people with different backgrounds and it is always an enriching experience.”

Tomas is studying quantum physics at the University of Vienna and is part of the Quantum Nanophysics group.

P.S.: If you are interested in joining us for a summer internship, we post our open positions every year. There is currently an open call for 2023, which you can find here.



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