MPI Nuclear Physics – Harshank Shotriya

387 Views, Posted on: July 3, 2017

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Probing on the attosecond timescale

Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics

Max Planck institute for nuclear physics (MPIK) is located in Heidelberg, Germany. I have joined one of the scientific divisions here, Quantum Dynamics and Control, for 10 weeks. This division mainly focuses on generation and characterization of ultrashort laser pulses and also interaction of such pulses with gases.

Acquiring the intern:

My project supervisor (SLP) recommended names of Professors and research institutes whose research areas were aligned to my work during the project. I started mailing around the starting of December and got a favourable reply after contacting around 10 Professors in this field. I briefly read about the research descriptions of those Professors on their webpage before mailing them and described how my project work can be useful for them. I got a positive reply from MPIK but since I was not eligible for DAAD, a recommendation from my project supervisor at IITB helped me get funding from the institute itself. The accommodation is also provided by the institute in the guest house within the institute premises. I would suggest the students applying for VISA through German embassy to ensure that they have the work permit which is necessary if you are going to be paid by a German organization. The administrative staff at MPIK got the permit on my behalf and sent it to me by post.


The institute is located in the hills little far from the city. The campus is rather small due to the specific nature of research done here.


I had already been assigned a PhD student guide before arriving whom I would help with his research. He suggested a few topics for my project work here and gave me some research papers to read beforehand. On my arrival here he helped me getting acquainted with the staff and other students. My project is to understand an algorithm for attosecond (10−18𝑠) pulse characterization and then code the algorithm using python which can be used by my guide here. While my guide works mainly in the lab but due to the computational nature of my project I have been assigned an office along with other students where I can work. The workplace is like a typical office where I have been assigned a PC with necessary softwares installed. My guide is always ready to help me and explains the laser system related stuff well but due to his experimental background, understanding the algorithm and coding  it is challenging and fun.


First thing I noticed (or felt) on my arrival in Frankfurt was the low temperature even in May and secondly the large number of Audi, BMW and Mercedes cars on the roads. The general level of cleanliness is higher and random people passing you greet you with a smile or ‘Hello!’ which is uncommon in India.

The guest house room provided is equipped with all necessary appliances with a shared kitchen on every floor. I learned little bit of cooking before coming here, and after some successful attempts at cooking simple dishes I feel confident that if provided with the right ingredients and appliances I can survive on my own without the need of a cook. I usually eat lunch at the shared canteen of MPIK and EMBL along with other students and have numerous times taken a meal without knowing what it is (the names are written in German) even after eating it! I found travelling to be the most expensive service in Europe while groceries, vegetables, meat etc. are cheaper.


A small tourist town considered one of the best tourist destinations in Germany which is situated along the banks of river Neckar. I usually go down to the city every week to buy groceries and take a walk along the river. The weather is very nice with seldom rains, and on a sunny day the view of the river and the castle after hiking up to Königstuhl is rewarding.  Main tourist attractions are the Heidelberg Castle, Old Bridge over Neckar river, Philosopher’s way etc. For those interested in extensive tourism throughout Germany and Europe, it would be better to have a credit card as all transportation and accommodation purchases require a credit card only.



I have enjoyed my stay and work up till now and hope that my project work proves to be useful in my guide’s research. The people here are of helping nature, however in order to cultivate a good friendship you must be fluent in German.

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