Dr. Döndü Sahin is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Centre for Quantum Photonics. She spoke to us about how she ended up as a researcher, her curiosity as a child, and how her profession has opened up gateways to the greater world.
Can you tell us about your specific area of research?
When I am asked to explain my work to public, I usually make an analogy to internet-banking, as confidentiality affects people in their daily lives and so is relatable. Currently, for example, classical channels are used for the password transfers in internet banking. Therefore, when we log on to our internet banking we are given one-time-off password which is valid for only a limited amount of time. This is only because the classical channels are prone to the interception and if somebody eavesdrops on the channel and steals our passwords, they can empty all our accounts! However, if the channel is secured by encrypting the password based on quantum mechanical rules, which means using single photons, then the password is transferred safely. To explain, a photon is the single particle in light. When we send a single photon to the receiver and s/he does not receive it, an eavesdropper must be in the line. In that process, single-photon or photon-number-resolving detectors are required to detect those photons. I studied these types of detector during my PhD research, and have continued now as a postdoctoral researcher on this topic.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in quantum photonics?
I was always a curious child, asking lots of “why” questions but I never knew before I attended university that I would be doing research. I discovered my love of research when I met some enthusiastic professors/researchers during my Bachelor’s at university. Then, when I started my final year project, I knew I would be definitely doing PhD because it was inspiring to be in the lab and get my hands dirty.
There are also some advantages of being a researcher which are worth mentioning. Firstly, we get to meet lots of interesting, clever and inspiring people continuously. Moreover, we travel to different places for conferences/meetings and visit other research labs for work. I also believe, as opposed to some common belief, it is no different than many other jobs in the market.