Photonic interactions in periodically structured atomic ensembles

Principal Investigator: Alexei Ourjoumtsev

Alexei Ourjoumtsev

After graduating from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris in 2004, with a Master degree in quantum physics, I specialized in experimental quantum optics. I became particularly interested in a general and open problem: how to make optical photons interact with each other. During my PhD thesis, directed by Prof. Philippe Grangier in the Institut d’Optique (Orsay, then Palaiseau), I created such interactions in a probabilistic way, by combining tools used to manipulate light either as an ensemble of discrete photons or as a continuous wave.

As a post-doctoral research fellow in the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany), in the group of Prof. Gerhard Rempe, I worked on a different approach to this problem, based on cavity quantum electrodynamics. In 2009 I came back as a CNRS research scientist to my former institute, where I developed a new experiment to study optical non-linearities in a cold gas of interacting highly-excited Rydberg atoms.

My project in the Collège de France combines many ideas encountered in my career and in everyday life. It stems from the simple observation that light can be controlled more efficiently using micro-structured objects rather than “bulk” media. I would like to create and control such objects at a quantum level using cold atoms, in order to use them for various tasks, in particular to enable efficient interactions between optical photons. In the long run, I plan to pursue my work in quantum science and technology, and would enjoy applying its ideas and techniques to other fields of research.

On a more personal side, I spent ten years of my life in Russia, over twenty years in France, two years in Germany and eight months in the US, so I can find a common language with many people. When I get tired of Paris I go mountaineering, or simply travelling.