Physics is fascinating because of the intellectual excitement it provides and because of the applications it offers. In the Group of Applied Physics (GAP) at Geneva University we get our inspiration from both of these motivations. Optics, in this respect, has a privileged place. Indeed, in modern optics, experiments and theory progress hand-in-hand, and practical applications are close behind. Consequently, we can work both on conceptual issues and on applications. Moreover, it is a very good time for optics! The fascinating new insight about quantum mechanics brought about by recent quantum optics experiments on one side, and the tremendous development of optical communications on the other, illustrates our privileged position!
The American Research Council has recently declared optics as the technology of the 21st century. In contrast, a famous physicist, Michael Berry, has declared that the 21st century will be shaped by quantum physics, in a way similar to electrodynamics, which shaped the 20th century. Our position in GAP-Quantique, at the crossroads between optics and quantum physics, ensures our participation to both challenges.
Professor Nicolas Gisin has been included in the recently released Thomson Reuters 2014 list of Highly Cited Researchers. He was ranked among the top 1% most cited authors in modern physics. This list contains about 3000 scientists from various disciplines, but only 144 physicists. More numbers and further information can be found in the hottest researchers report.
Physicists are devoting substantial efforts to bring mechanics to the quantum regime. Among the many motivations is the desire to tackle the long-standing question on whether quantum theory applies to any scale, and in particular to macroscopic masses. Through a collaborative project between our group and the Kippenberg group at Lausanne, we have proposed a realistic approach to induce a single excitation into the vibrational mode of a mechanical oscillator. Our proposal relies on conditional detections and might significantly facilitate the realization of quantum opto-mechanics as it does not use non-classical light states to create quantum mechanical states. Our work has been published in Phys. Rev. Lett and highlighted by Science Magazine and EPFL.
As attempts to understand how the classical world emerges from the quantum domain, post-quantum theories have been derived that reproduces quantum and classical physics as two asymptotic cases. Phenomenologically, these theories can be seen as quantum theory supplemented with an explicit collapse mechanism and might have a rich underlying physics. Prof. Gisin made significant contributions to these research directions already in the 80's (see for example N. Gisin Helvetica Physica Acta, 62 363 (1989) ), known today as Continuous Spontaneous Localization, in the spirit of the GRW-Bell model. Recently, in collaboration with Prof. Markus Aspelmeyer from Vienna, Prof. Nicolas Sangouard (soon in Basel) and Dr. Pavel Sekatski (Innsbruck) have made a concrete proposal showing how we can create and detect an optomechanical quantum state involving macroscopically distinct mechanical components. Through a detailed feasibility study, we have shown that it might open up a way for testing these post-quantum theories… a very exciting perspective that has now been published in Physical Review Letters.
During the QCrypt conference at the Institute of Quantum Computing, professor Nicolas Gisin gave an interview about his research interests. In the two part video, he talks about the unexpected applications of quantum technologies in modern devices and their possible applications in the future. Also he briefly discusses his goal of understanding nature and how the world works through fundamental studies and experiments. He uses nonlocality as an example to explain how some fundamentals are counterintuitive.