Next stop: SOLEIL

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Over a year prior to finishing my PhD I have been hunting for postdoc positions in the field of astrochemistry. I have written a bunch of grant applications (including Marie Curie fellowhsips and VENIs) and gotten a whole lot of disheartening rejections. Recently I came across a pretty good quote that was supposedly by former Indian president A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. (By the way, try Googling his name and you will stumble upon a plethora of inspirational quotes).

“Sometimes not getting what you want is a brilliant stroke of luck.”

[Tangent] However, once I started googling the quote itself, I found inspirational posters that trace the quote back to either Dalay Lama or Lorii Mayers. Thanks internet. Here, have another A.P.J. Abdul Kalam inspirational quote then![/Tangent]

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The way I see it, I believe I have hit the jackpot with all these prior rejections. I have, namely, obtained a postdoc position at the distinguishing and world-renowned SOLEIL synchrotron in Saint-Aubin, France.

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The SOLEIL synchrotron functions by accelerating electrons up to high speeds (near the speed of light, at which point they become relativistic). The electrons then start to loose energy in the form of photons are variable energies. These photons (or synchrotron radiation) are used on many installed user stations at SOLEIL, each of which dedicated to a certain wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

I will be working within the Atomic and Molecular Physics, Dilute Matter, Universe Science division on the DESIRS beamline ((Dichroïsme Et Spectroscopie par Interaction avec le Rayonnement Synchrotron) under the supervision of Laurent Nahon and Gustavo Garcia-Macias.  The DESIRS beamline focuses on ultraviolet radiation in the 5-40 eV photon energy range and my projects will concern combustion chemistry and interstellar chemistry.

According to the researchers themselves:

„DESIRS provides new opportunities for the study of photon-induced processes via the valence shell on mainly isolated gas phase samples, such as cold molecules, radicals, laser-excited species, biomolecules, large ionic biopolymers, clusters and nanoparticles, as well as on condensed matter. This includes high resolution spectroscopy, molecular dynamics and reactivity, and photoionization dynamics studies. In addition, the availability of calibrated versatile (linear, circular) polarizations of the photon beam is a unique specificity of the beamline allowing the study of molecular chirality and anisotropic properties of matter via different types of dichroism experiments.“

My first day at SOLEIL will be September 1st. I can’t wait!

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