On 15 July, UvA rector magnificus prof. Dymph van den Boom inaugurated the new lab facilities of prof. Florian Schreck at the Institute of Physics.
During her visit of the lab facilities, Schreck explained his work within the context of the UvA research priority area Quantum Matter and Quantum Information. He and his team recently started to use the facilities after their successful move from Innsbruck to Amsterdam of the extremely precious and sensitive laser setup in December 2013.
Schreck works with quantum gases consisting of strontium atoms. In 2009 his research team produced the first strontium Bose-Einstein condensate worldwide. Such a Bose-Einstein condensate, or BEC, is an exceptional state of matter in which a large number of atoms occupy the lowest-energy quantum state, thus causing quantum effects to become apparent on a macroscopic scale. In 2012 Schreck and his team were again able to produce a strontium Bose-Einstein condensate, this time using only laser cooling. Most of the BECs produced until then had consisted of atoms with a single electron in the atom’s outer shell. Alkaline-earth elements such as strontium have two electrons in this shell. The use of a strontium BEC of these atoms enables Schreck to investigate completely new phenomena. He and his team are particularly interested in quantum magnetism and in the development of new quantum devices. This will open up countless new possibilities, for example for precision measurements with atomic clocks.
Recently, Schreck was awarded a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). It was during the lunch with the UvA's other ERC laureates where prof. Van den Boom got intrigued by Schreck's ambitious research plans. They then agreed to organise a lab tour as soon as his experimental setups were revived after the move from Innsbruck. During the lab tour, the rector formally inaugurated the labs by switching on a laser system that projected the UvA logo in bright green onto the lab's wall.