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École Polytechnique welcomes American students for a research internship

As they participate in the Optics in the City of Light research experience program, four students from the University of Michigan join École Polytechnique’s laboratories for a two-month internship. Organized with several partners of the University Paris-Saclay, the program focuses on laser research.
École Polytechnique welcomes American students for a research internship
20 Jul. 2022
International, Education, Physique

The Optics in the City Light program offers American students a unique opportunity to spend a two-month internship in a variety of world-class laboratories in France and to perform research with ultrafast lasers. This year, four of the eight students who have been admitted to the program have joined École Polytechnique’s Condensed Matter Physics laboratory for their scientific internship, while the others will gain research experience in laboratories at University Paris-Saclay.

Among the founders of the Optics in the City of Light program is Nobel Prize winner Gérard Mourou, a professor and member of the Haut-collège of École Polytechnique. Gérard Mourou received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Donna Strickland for the method they developed for generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses.

Still highly committed to the City of Light program he initiated, Gérard Mourou honored this year’s participants with his presence as they arrived on École Polytechnique’s campus on June 10th, 2022. The students had the opportunity to introduce themselves to Professor Mourou and learn about his research and professional experience at the University of Michigan, where he spent several years of his career and founded the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science in 1990.

A unique opportunity to gain international research experience

Launched in 2009, the Optics in the City of Light program focuses on ultrafast laser research. Funded through the National Scientific Foundation (NSF), it offers undergraduate students from the United States every year a unique opportunity to gain an international research experience in a world-class research laboratory in France. Students admitted to the program spend two months in different laboratories nearby Paris, performing research with a wide range of lasers.

Amongst the four students who have joined École Polytechnique’s research laboratories in the frame of the program is Rishabh Kothari, who studies Material Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan. He had put École Polytechnique’s Condensed Matter Physics laboratory internship offer high up on his wish list for the program and got accepted. Under the supervision of Alistair Rowe, research professor at École Polytechnique, Rishabh works on “micro-luminescence studies of spin-dependent recombination in ternary semiconductors”. In complement, Rishabh also investigates the optical properties of two-dimensional materials” under the supervision of Fabian Cadiz, assistant professor and researcher at École Polytechnique.

"I have some experience with semiconductors from my Bachelor's program and research experience at the University of Michigan, and this internship has allowed me to broaden my understanding of active research areas within semiconductor physics”, explains Rishabh and adds, "It is very stimulating to work in the laboratory alongside PhD candidates and researchers, and I very much enjoy this opportunity to discuss and learn from several faculty members in this environment."

On the picture, from the left to the right: Alejandro Garcia and Rishabh Kothari during their internship in École Polytechnique’s Condensed Matter Physics laboratory

Before the internship period, all participants met for a preparatory week at the University of Michigan to train to work with lasers. Fascinating and powerful, the highly-concentrated light from lasers can be hazardous when operated unsafely or without specific controls.