Since April 2017, Witlef Wieczorek, assistant professor at the Quantum Technology Laboratory at MC2, has been planning and building a new laboratory for mechanical quantum device research. Photo: Michael Nystås

New laboratory for mechanical quantum device research

From Vienna to Gothenburg. Since April 2017 Witlef Wieczorek, assistant professor at the Quantum Technology Laboratory at MC2, has been planning and building a new laboratory with equipment, researchers and doctoral students. "The infrastructure and the people who do research here at Chalmers and particularly at MC2 are impressive", he says.
Witlef Wieczorek was originally hired as an assistant professor at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory, but since 1 January 2018 he is a member of the newly established Quantum Technology Laboratory. He welcomes us to his new office in the MC2 building at Chalmers. The corridor on the fourth floor is the location of a brand-new research laboratory within Mechanical Quantum Devices in 2018, headed by Witlef. New instruments and machines are installed in the renovated facilities, which previously were used by Thorvald Andersson and his legendary MBE Group.
"Kaija Matikainen and Svante Pålsson from MC2 and Linus Andersson from Bength Dahlgren are important key persons for me, among many others. They help a lot with the lab space. Kaija was essentially in charge of the renovation of the office space. Mikael Fogelström and August Yurgens showed continued support for this renovation",  Witlef says.
 
Two PhD students have already started in his lab, and more people are yet to come to work on different projects related to mechanical quantum devices. Witlef also welcomes interested master students to the new environment. Lots of new instruments are ordered and installed during the previous and upcoming months:
"Yes, an optical table like what photonics people have, a cryostat, a laser, optical modulation equipment, and some electronics equipment such as a frequency generator, a spectrum analyzer, an oscilloscope... and much much more", Witlef mentions, counting on his fingers.
 
To set up a new laboratory is a complicated process which can take up until a year before it's alive and kicking.
"When all the equipment is there,  we have to make it work: connect, test and programme everything and then order the small things which we might have forgotten. Most of the time I buy new equipment, but sometimes it's possible to buy used one. Overall, it takes a lot of time until a lab is running. The good thing is that MC2 has an excellent cleanroom, so you can always work on fabricating your samples! The support from the cleanroom people is really wonderful. I'm very happy about it."
 
Witlef Wieczorek was born in Berlin in 1979.
"I am born in the eastern side. If the Berlin wall hadn't fallen I wouldn't be here", he says.
He now lives in a rented house in Västra Frölunda, together with his family; wife and two daughters, aged six and three years. The family has accustomed well to the new life in Gothenburg.
"We are all quite happy. My oldest daughter is going to preschool, and  she likes it very much. But in the beginning it was a bit hard, because of language and so on."
 
Do you like Gothenburg?
"Yes! We like it very much. We have never lived close to the sea before and we currently really enjoy that. Every time the weather permits we take the ferries and go to the archipelago with the kids. We like to go and see nature, we use our bicycles quite a lot. Gothenburg is also a city that we can nicely explore with our kids, for example, all the family-friendly museums.  And, there's still a lot more to explore."
 
Witlef's father was a physicist in Berlin. In his childhood, Witlef became interested and started to study physics too.
"At some point I thought I had to move out of the city, so I decided to go to Munich to do a PhD. It also came along with my interest in quantum physics and quantum optics."
In Munich, Witlef became a member of the well-known Weinfurter Group at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU University of Munich) and at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany.
"Then I started to do experiments on entangled photons, studying the weird predictions of quantum physics", Witlef tells us.
He did his experiments at the Max Planck Institute.
"The idea of the research was essentially to study quantum information, to explore quantum information, to understand it a bit better by using the physical system of light or photons. It goes along at what Per Delsing and Göran Johansson are doing here; they're using superconducting qubits and now they want to build a quantum computer."
 
Tell us a bit about your PhD thesis!
"My PhD was rather a bit more basic in the sense that I wanted to understand entanglement of multiple objects. We were quite successful in that respect, at that time it was really good to entangle six photons, and we could show that and analyze that."
 
One day Witlef attended a lecture with Professor Markus Aspelmeyer from the Aspelmeyer Group at the University of Vienna. He is a pioneer in studying quantum objects with mechanical systems. The talk was so inspiring that Witlef felt that he wanted to do his PostDoc in his group. He got approved and moved to Vienna.
His years in Vienna awaken thoughts to some day start his own research group.
"I thought that I sometime in my life wanted to do my own experiments and pursue my own ideas. That brought me here!", Witlef says.
 
In 2016, Witlef Wieczorek applied for a position at MC2, when he got aware of a call for an assistant professorship in the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Area of Advance. And in April 2017 he began his new appointment. Recently he switched to the newly established Quantum Technology Laboratory at MC2.
"I am really happy to be here. Definitely because of the research. The infrastructure and the people who do research here are impressive, the possibilities to interact and collaborate are excellent, and everybody's is very open. Another reason to go here is to learn a new language, I have started to learn Swedish!"
 
In his spare time, Witlef enjoys playing basketball, he was a skilled player once, and, of course, being with his family. He also likes beachvolleyball and literature. Among his favourite authors are Herman Hesse and José Saramago:
"Saramago has amazing sentences that go over one page, one has to get into that, and his books are really enjoyable, "Blindness" is very good for example. I also like "The Gospel according to Jesus Christ", which is a very nice book."
 
Text and photo: Michael Nystås

Published: Thu 18 Jan 2018.