Thanks to Lucas Güniat, the secrets of nanowires—the building blocks of quantum computers— have now been revealed. This accomplished speaker reported the results of his PhD research on nanowires in EPFL’s “My Thesis in 180 Seconds” contest. He was awarded the first place in a unanimous vote because of his passion for his work toward the exceptional microcrystals used for making the tiny wires.
The My Thesis in 180 Seconds contest’s challenge is to outline a complicated scientific subject in layman’s terms so that the common public can easily comprehend it. Last night’s participants were all PhD students. Each of them had three minutes to clearly report their findings to the audience and the panel without undermining the accuracy of the subject or its scientific rigor.
To describe the basics of quantum computers, Güniat—in his talk—drew a parallel with David and Goliath. He explained how one of the main challenges in building these small, ultra-powerful machines is creating nanowires that are ideally straight. He earned the audience choice award during the qualifying round and at the finals because of his natural speaking style and unambiguous manner of presenting concepts.
All twelve finalists in the contest presented impressively in what is an adventurous, yet stressful experience. They spoke in front of a huge audience and covered topics ranging from the environmental impact of buildings to plasma physics and statistics. Evgenii Glushkov, who described how nanodiamonds can be placed inside live human body cells to administer drugs or study certain processes, earned the second place.
The third place was bagged by Bahar Haghighat, who is a second-time finalist in the contest. She explained how assembling nanoscopic elements is similar to building a Lego set while wearing boxing gloves. These three winners will go on to participate in the Swiss national finals, which will be held in Fribourg on June 7, 2018.
This contest has now become an annual event at EPFL. According to the rules of the contest, PhD students have precisely 180 seconds to garner excitement for their research projects. The six-person panel consists of journalists, scientists and business people involved in technology transfer. The panel evaluates the students’ talks based on certain criteria such as how well background information is presented, how well the talk is structured and elocution.