The infinitely small, towards news fields of possibilities?

Let's discover the portraits of Glenna Drisko, Claire Autebert and Karina Jiménez García and the video of their performance during the 2016 L'Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science fellowships in France.

Glenna DRISKO, PhD : "Silicon on a nanometre scale revolutionising optics"

Forget optic science as you know it. Imagine now that it will be possible to create objects with no shadow, make them invisible and to give the impression that they are suspended in space. This is the incredible challenge that Glenna Drisko has set out on at the Bordeaux Institute for Condensed Matter Chemistry. The young American researcher is focusing her research on nano-silicon, which may well be the ideal material for the creation of these objects with optical properties that currently do not exist, called metamaterials. Silicon is already well-known for having transformed electronics, allowing a spectacular growth in performance of electronic processes. Currently, a new market is growing for reduced-size silicon: nano-silicon opens the way for fantastic optic functionality thanks to its completely unique optical properties in the visible and the near infra-red. The challenge is now to master the creation of particles based on nano-silicon in large quantities. The only snag is that the synthesis is not yet mastered. “I am testing different methods both for making nano-particles of a controlled size and crystallising them. This is a multi-disciplinary approach situated somewhere between matter chemistry, physics and optics”, explains Glenna Drisko. “With this new way of manipulating light, science-fiction will become reality.”

Claire AUTEBERT : "Photons for transmitting information"

During the middle of August, China launched the first quantum communication satellite, demonstrating the intense competition in this new research area, which uses the laws of quantum mechanics to process and transmit information in a more efficient way. These laws describe the behaviour of microscopic objects: molecules, atoms or particles. French research is very present in this area, with, in particular, work from the Quantum Material and Phenomena Laboratory at Université Paris Diderot, where Clare Autebert is carrying out her PhD. “Currently, there is a real race for miniaturising components capable of generating and manipulating quantum states. We have chosen to study photons because they do not interact with each other and are not very sensitive to their environment. They are the best media for transporting information, in particular along telecommunication wavelengths where loss in fibres are reduced”, explains Claire Autebert. During her research, she has therefore characterised an initial source of photon pairs injected electrically and functioning at an ambient temperature. A real technological leap, these initial trials may result in a new generation of simple and robust methods for quantum information and communication. In the long term, this source could be used to create coding keys, or to make quantum calculations or simulations that are inaccessible currently to computers. This is a decisive step towards a general circulation of these technologies.

Karina JIMÉNEZ GARCÍA : "Quantum magnetism with ultracold atoms"

Creating new materials with incredible properties is a real challenge for revolutionising and improving our everyday lives like recent innovations have shown (electric high-speed trains with magnetic levitation, the revolution in telecommunications, MRI, etc.). Currently carrying out her second post-doctorate research post, at the Kastler-Brossel laboratory and at the Institut de Physique du Collège de France, Karina Jiménez García is creating, with her colleagues, proto-materials (proto-types of new materials that do not exist in the natural state, which researchers create in the laboratory), using several thousand atoms prepared at a very low temperature. These materials are made of very diluted atomic gas, much more diluted than the air in a room. They are prepared in a vacuum and are so fragile that they must be manipulated inside a specially designed machine using lasers and magnetic fields. Karina Jiménez García studies the magnetic properties of these materials, called Bose-Einstein condensates, which are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. “I am studying the spatial arrangement of the fundamental components of these materials in order to understand their magnetic properties. In the long term, this research could enable the advancement of technologies based on magnetic materials such as the hard drives of our computers”, says the young experimental physicist. This is an advancement that is eagerly awaited by many!

Let's discover their performance:

For Women in Science

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