Our Guest: Luca Barbiero

Luca Barbiero


LFUI Guest Professorship
October - November 2023

Home university / Country
Politecnico di Torino / Italy

Assistant Professor at the Department of Applied Science and Technology (DISAT)

Research areas
Quantum simulations, topological insulators 

Guest of 
Manfred Mark

Institut für Quantenoptik und Quanteninformation der Österr. Akademie der Wissenschaft

Guest lecture
24.10.2023, at 16:45, HS C, VFH-Hess-Hauses
"Exploring quantum matter with ultracold dipolar systems"

 "In order to make theoretical predictions, we are [...] basically forced to use our intuition and 'bet' on the parameters that are important or negligible to explain and understand the origin of a complicated physical effect."


Innsbruck for me is...

Innsbruck is one of the most important “research city” in the world. In particular, Innsbruck is where 25 year ago the idea of trying to understand and reproduce the behavior of quantum systems by employing ultracold atoms has been first proposed. Since then, the Innsbruck physics department has regularly provided pioneering contributes in this field which have deeply inspired my research activity. So, when I think about Innsbruck I see a continuous source of inspiration and an incubator of scientific excellences.


At the University of Innsbruck I will...

At the Innsbruck University I will try to predict and understand the possible states of matter that can appear when specific atoms, lanthanides with large magnetic momentum, are trapped in periodic arrays made of light and brought to almost zero temperature. Here, such atoms will obey the rules of quantum mechanics and we can then expect the appearance of a plethora of novel and intriguing quantum mechanical effects. In particular, together with the team led by Prof. Francesca Ferlaino, we plan to combine theoretical analysis with the most sophisticated experimental techniques to explore specific states of matter, the ones with topological properties.


What fascinates me about scientific work is...

I love the fact that potentially every day we can understand and discover different things. Generally, a research projects is executed in a time period that can be from few to many months long. Although this process can be challenging, I like the daily steps forward helping to enrich our knowledge of some law of nature. What further fascinates me is the general approach the we use. We indeed aim to understand how very complex physical systems behave by trying to simplify them as much as possible. Indeed, the large majority of the physical systems that we find everywhere are characterized by many possible parameters that we cannot simultaneously take into account. In order to make theoretical predictions, we are then basically forced to use our intuition and “bet” on the parameters that are important or negligible to explain and understand the origin of a complicated physical effect. Overall, I think this approach can be useful also in real life problems.


For my students I give the following advices...

My main advice is to try to not get totally absorbed by the beauty of the research in quantum physics because doing research can be challenging but also very rewarding. Generally, I try to push young people to not forget how rewarding can also be the life outside the work environment and to enjoy the free time. Overall, I am convinced that having a balanced life helps in doing our job in the best possible way. Moreover, I think that especially for young scientists it is important to be generally sensitive to the many inputs that we receive in doing different activities, so to train our brain to process in a critical way phenomena that we are not necessary familiar with.

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