Interview with Victor Hariton

We've spoken to Victor Hariton, APPLAuSE student and C4 delegate. APPLAuSE is a doctoral programme on Plasma Science and Engineering, which started in January 2014. The hosting institution is Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear, with Instituto Superior Técnico.

Victor, 25, has joined APPLAuSE this year after obtaining his MSc degree in Engineering Physics in 2016 from IST, under the supervision of Prof. Gonçalo Figueira. He has been dedicated to laser physics in the last couple of years, namely laser-plasma interaction, laser-matter interaction, laser ablation and high-power laser science. Last year, he was awarded the Gulbenkian Prize for Stimulus to Scientific Research in physics for his project Fab-Laser – femtosecond ablation of biological samples with shaped laser pulses.

Laboratory rotations are a major part of the first year of APPLAuSE. Each student undergoes three rotations in three groups, out of about 20 rotations offered at IPFN each year. In each 4-week long rotation, a small project is developed, with a written report and presentation at the end. The goals are to bring the student into a real-life research context and to promote the interaction with potential PhD supervisors.

What were your motivations for choosing the APPLAuSE programme for your PhD?
My main reason to pursue this particular PhD is to strengthen my knowledge base and to acquire practical skills in the area of lasers. I strongly believe that joining the APPLAuSE programme is an excellent choice for an academic career and I think that this is a great opportunity for myself, to enlarge and complement my expertise in the field, pursue my passion and give contributions to the scientific community.  As far as I know, this program is very competitive, due to the naturally high level of required skills and amount of addressed fields and is a good choice for my professional goals.

Q2: What are your research plans for this next stage of your PhD?
In the next few years, I'm planning on continuing my research on laser development concentrated on the generation, application and diagnostics of ultrashort (femtosecond-level), ultra-powerful pulses. In particular, I would like to work on a new technique of spectral broadening that would allow generating short pulses in unprecedented regimes.

Q3: In your Lab Rotations what were your experiments about? Which groups did you join?
I joined the Group of Lasers and Plasmas experimental team (xGolp), where I found a lot of help, namely from more advanced APPLAuSE colleagues. I was able to perform experiments on topics I had never worked on and it was a great opportunity to learn something new. In the first lab rotation, I joined an ongoing work with the main goal of developing an optical parametric oscillator, which allowed me to gain knowledge on nonlinear effects and acquire more experimental know-how.

Q4: How did they go? How will it shape the way you will approach your PhD thesis?
In general, it was a good experience. The only issue is the time window that often limits the possibility of reaching the goals of the project. In any case, it fulfils the main objective of the lab rotations, which is contacting with a research group and making part of the day to day life of a researcher. In my case, the second lab rotation allowed me to make a first contact with the topic of my PhD thesis, so it was a two-in-one success. It also allowed to create more contact between colleagues and opened windows for mutual help.