I have been once to Switzerland before this summer, but I have just realised now how amazing it is. Lausanne became one of my favourite cities from the very first days spent here.
I have been working in the Laboratory for Quantum Gases, being supervised by Professor Jean-Philippe Brantut and Kevin Roux. The current goal of their experiment is to analyse the properties of strongly interacting Fermi gases – these could then be used in other fields, such as astrophysics. Such a gas is cooled down to very low temperatures and trapped using a magneto-optical trap. My project involved the imaging part of the experiment; the first task was to test the performance of a custom made aspherical lens that compensates for spherical aberrations. The lens was then incorporated into the imaging system, which acted as a band-pass frequency filter, after which numerical (and sometimes analytical) simulations were performed and compared to the experimental results. For the last part of my time in the lab, I have been designing the objective holding system, trying to maximize its mechanical and thermal stability. Everyone in the lab was very friendly so I found it easy to accommodate to this new experience.
Switzerland is a great place to be in summer, to say the least; Lausanne itself offers some amazing sceneries from its beautiful parks and gardens or from the Sauvebelin park – where a 35 meters wooden tower is. Lausanne is also known as the ‘Olympic capital’, so one can do all kinds of sports around. The Swiss national team was involved in this year’s World Cup and big screens were placed all around the city for football fans to support their favourites during the tournament. The lake is probably the best part of the city; swimming in its crystal-clear water with the mountains in the background is something to look forward to; one could also rent pedal or motor boats (and perhaps try not to drop your keys in the water!). There are also a lot of places to visit around Lausanne, Bern and Geneve being only about one hour away by train. If you go to Switzerland don’t miss out on trying some of the local cheese and chocolate!
If you want to spend a summer studying physics in a great place, then EPFL is your destination.
Horia Magureanu, University of Oxford
Laboratory for Quantum Gases, EPFL