Mr. Brian Sheridan from Dublin University is visiting FSU Jena for a summer research project
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A Summer Internship through RISE Germany

Brian Sheridan May 28, 2021
Mr. Brian Sheridan from Dublin University is visiting FSU Jena for a summer research project
Image: Anne Günther-Mitsching
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The Institute for Condensed Matter Theory and Optics will be welcoming Brian Sheridan this summer as a research intern from University College Dublin in Ireland through the RISE program offered by the DAAD. Brian will be working with PhD student Mr. Navid Daryakar and with Dr. Christin David investigating Nonlinear Optical Properties of Amorphous Nanostructures as part of the CRC NOA (Nonlinear Optics down to Atomic Scales). Below he writes about his expe- rience so far, the research project and his aspirations for the summer. More information regarding the DAAD RISE scheme can be found here.

It was early March when I received an email which would not only make my day but would also make my summer. I had been informed that I was successful in obtaining a research internship at Friedrich Schiller University Jena through the prestigious Research In Science and Engineering (RISE) program organised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). This program awards the opportunity to penultimate year undergraduate science and engineering students in Ireland, the United Kingdom and North America to undertake a three month research internship under the guidance of a PhD student at a German university or research institution.

As an aspiring physicist it has always been a dream of mine to participate in a research internship and I recognised that this was no doubt an amazing opportunity. The RISE program, however, is a nationwide program partnering with many different institutions, so upon application I was faced with the task of choosing one university above all others. One research project in particular caught my eye and the balance between mathematics, programming and a very interesting topic inspired me to investigate Nonlinear Optics in Amorphous Nanostructures at the city Jena. I had been fortunate to be invited for an interview with the wonderful Christin David and Navid Daryakar after I had submitted the application along with a letter of reference online. A friendly and exciting talk convinced me that this was the place to be for the summer!

The Project

The project investigates the nonlinear optical properties of amorphous media. These media are examined using Bruggeman theory which is a type of Effective Medium Theory, another example of which is Maxwell Garnett theory. These Effective Medium Theories approximate complicated inhomogeneous media, with a host and inclusion material, as effectively homogeneous media in order to find effective properties such as permittivities and permeabilities, dependent on the vol- ume fraction of the inclusion material. These properties can then be used to investigate the near- and far-field optical information of the material; along with the use of scattering matrix theory to investigate amorphous structures in the form of thin films in complex layered systems. The work relates closely to Navid’s PhD studies investigating Nonlinear and Nonlocal optical response in complex nanostructured multilayers. During the project I aim to accurately describe the nonlinear response of amorphous multilayered systems using Bruggeman theory, and to implement reliable numerical methods to calculate the optical properties of media from the theory and to predict the corresponding near- and far-field effects. I enjoy both mathematics and programming so it should be an enjoyable project!

Not only will a research internship through the RISE program afford me a valuable independent research experience and help me to develop a scientist’s skillset, but the research group working on Nonlinear Optics down to Atomic Scales at Jena is developing advanced, exciting and sophisticated physical theories and techniques, and I am very much excited to be part of the team.

A Cultural Exchange

Along with all of the fun with physics this summer, I am looking forward to the cultural exchange during my stay. With English and German both sharing a common ancestry as Germanic languages I hope to acquire respectable German skills, while I also look forward to sharing some Irish language phrases which will impress any Irish person you might meet! Jena is a university city and a melting pot of cultures, allowing me to become another person participating in this rich cultural exchange. As the summer progresses, I think all of us will appreciate the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, and I’m looking forward to exploring Jena and all it has to offer.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought many institutions and organisations to a grinding halt, however, I am privileged to be offered this position at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. It will be a welcome change from studying solely at home for my Physics degree over the past fourteen months! The summer is on the horizon and I look forward to meeting everyone at the NOA department in Jena.

Mr. Brian Sheridan with his hosts, PhD candidate Navid Daryakar and Dr. Christin David, in front of the Abbeanum, Jena Mr. Brian Sheridan with his hosts, PhD candidate Navid Daryakar and Dr. Christin David, in front of the Abbeanum, Jena Image: Anne Günther-Mitsching