Dr. Bharath Srivathsan

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Dr. Bharath Srivathsan is a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Chair for Experimental Physics (Optics) at FAU. (Image: Jyotsna Srinath)

Humboldt Research Fellow at the Chair for Experimental Physics (Optics)

How light interacts with atoms

From 2004 to 2009, Dr. Bharath Srivathsan studied at the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in Goa, India, where he received a dual M.Sc. in Physics and an Electrical and Electronics B.E. During this time he also was an intern at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the Broadcom Corporation. Afterwards, Dr. Srivathsan did his Ph.D. in Experimental Physics at the National University of Singapore. He obtained his Ph.D. with the doctoral thesis titled “Heralded Single Photons For Efficient Interaction with Single Atoms”.

In 2015, he carried out postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, where he focused on free space coupling of light and a single atom using a 4-π parabolic mirror. Since November 2016, Dr. Srivathsan furthers his studies at the Chair of Optics at FAU as an Alexander von Humboldt research fellow.

His research interests are experimental quantum optics, atom-light interaction and quantum information among others.

Dr. Srivathsan, what is your field of research?

I am an experimental physicist. More specifically, I perform experiments to understand how light interacts with atoms.  It is part of a subfield called “Quantum Optics”.

What were your reasons for choosing FAU as your host institution for a research stay abroad?

I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Prof. Gerd Leuchs when I was a PhD student in Singapore. I found some of the experiments in his group very interesting and unique. So I decided to apply for a postdoc position here.

How well known is FAU internationally in your field of research?

It is relatively well known in the field of optics in general. The Chair of Optics here at FAU has a very good reputation internationally for state of the art research in classical optics, and gaining reputation in the field of quantum optics as well!

If you compare your home university to FAU: How do you find the interaction between researchers at FAU?

It is comparable. I found the discussions at FAU very scientifically stimulating. Almost always I end up learning something new or interesting after every discussion I have with other researchers here.

Could you give us a short description of the project your research group is working on?

The project I am working on is called 4-PI Photon Atom Coupling, 4-PIPAC for short. The aim of the project is to see how efficiently one can couple light and a single atom. The holy grail would be to use just a single photon to bring an atom from its ground state to its excited state.

What are the most important results of your research at FAU to date?

We recently published a paper on shifting the phase of a laser beam by using a single atom (ion) in Appl. Phys. B.

What benefits can society in general expect as a result of your research?

It is basically a fundamental research. We try to understand how nature works.That being said, the ability to precisely control the interaction between light and atom is essential for building quantum technologies. One of the visions of many people in this field is to build a quantum computer, a new kind of computer that uses the principles of quantum physics to outperform the computers of today.

What were your first and subsequent impressions of the Erlangen-Nuremberg region?

Coming from an Asian city, I initially felt the region to be too quiet and isolated. But my impression has since changed. Now I find it very peaceful and ideal for doing science. The people are also generally friendly!

Do you already have a particular highlight, an experience or a moment, during your stay so far, that you’ll remember?

It has to be the Berg fest! I have never experienced before a drinking festival where people dress up so elaborately. Both me and my wife had a lot of fun, with beer and also the rides! It was amazing to see how well people behave even when drunk!

What are your favourite places at FAU and in Erlangen or Nuremberg?

At FAU it is my lab, of course! And in Erlangen, I like to go to Hugenottenplatz, walk around and visit the shops. I recently moved to Nuremberg, about a month back. I’m looking forward to explore the city!

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Thank you very much for interviewing me! I would like to take this opportunity to also thank the FAU Welcome Center for international researchers. They were really helpful both for me and my wife during our initial few months in Germany.

Thank you for the interview, Dr. Srivathsan.