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Charlie Doret: Learning Something from Measuring Nothing: Probing the Deepest Puzzles of the Universe, One Atom at a Time

Thu, April 6th, 2023
4:15 pm
- 5:30 pm

Atomic systems occupy a beautiful niche in physics. Atoms and molecules are often simple enough to be quite tractable theoretically while offering a rich internal structure and a varied array of interactions that may be probed and controlled by the experimentalist. Understanding these details is of course imperative for learning about the atoms themselves. However, our control over these systems also gives us an opportunity to use them as tools for exploring phenomena in other areas of physics and chemistry, ranging from condensed matter to cosmology. Furthermore, when properly harnessed atoms find a host of technological applications, such as quantum-limited sensing or as reference oscillators for the atomic clocks that underpin the Global Positioning System.

Charlie Doret is and Associate Professor of Physics. His particular interest is in applying simple systems of trapped atomic to quantum simulation, in which a trapped-ion crystal is used to emulate the behavior of a more complicated quantum system. To do this, we trap calcium ions using DC and RF electric fields generated by a surface-electrode Paul trap, and use lasers to control, manipulate, and read-out the quantum states of the trapped ions.

This talk is presented as part of the spring 2023 Faculty Lecture Series. The series was founded in 1911 by Catherine Mariotti Pratt, the spouse of a faculty member who wanted to “relieve the tedium of long New England winters with an opportunity to hear Williams professors talk about issues that really mattered to them.” From these humble and lighthearted beginnings, the Faculty Lecture Series has grown to become an important forum for tenured professors to share their latest research with the larger intellectual community of the college.

The Faculty Lecture Series is organized by the faculty members of the Lecture Committee. The aim of the series is to present big ideas beyond disciplinary boundaries.  All lectures will begin at 4:15 p.m.  They are free and open to the public.

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