Carmem M. Gilardoni wins the Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa thesis prize 2022

Credit: L’Oreal Foundation

The winner of the Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa physics thesis prize 2022 is Carmem M. Gilardoni. She carried out her PhD research in the group of Caspar van der Wal (University of Groningen) and defended her thesis in December 2021 cum laude.

The prize is an initiative of the Dutch Physics Council. The award is named after Paul Ehrenfest and Tatiana Afanassjewa because of their exceptional ability to stimulate young researchers to leave the beaten path. The prize winner receives a bronze statue and € 5,000, to be spent freely. The Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa physics thesis prize will be awarded during the NWO Physics conference in Veldhoven on 4-5 April 2023.

Vision and strong inner drive
The PhD thesis of Gilardoni is entitled “Optically addressable spins in silicon carbide and related 2D materials”.

The jury complimented Gilardoni on the creative combination of established methods of group theory and experimental spectroscopy and resulting interpretation of her results. Her strong inner drive to find answers to many of her relevant and curiosity-driven ‘why’ questions has led to new directions of research in the quantum technology field. Her work  also provides new tools that can be applied in a range of materials systems. Her vision combined with various outreach activities make her a versatile personality.

Credit: Caspar van der Wal

In short her research topic:
She (and her colleagues) show that colour centres in solids offer much more engineering choices and spread of performance (with respect to the relevant parameters for quantum-optical operation) than typically expected, even after 20 years of work on related systems. Relating the microscopic structure of these defect centres to the various observed figures of merit for quantum technological applications allowed the team to understand seemingly unintuitive results, and to predict how related systems will behave. In the fast-growing quantum technological environment, these approaches may open up pathways for the engineering of novel defect centres with particular applications in mind. 

Honourable mentions
The jury was very pleased with the high level of the nominations and, in addition to the winning thesis, gives honourable mentions to the PhD theses of Andrea Cordaro (AMOLF) and Brian Moser (Nikhef).