Ben Field

  • PhD student
  • EQUS
  • University of Sydney
  • Road-tripping Brisbane to Longreach (2024)

What do you do?

I work in a group developing technologies to connect distant quantum computers.  My work looks at developing a quantum memory, a device capable of storing light inside a crystal, that can be driven around on the back of a truck.  The ultimate goal of my project is to drive the signal of two telescopes together to create more detailed images of space.

How did you get to where you are today?

During high school I studied all three sciences (and very little maths); going into uni I knew I wanted to do physics but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to focus on the practical side in engineering.  Unable to decide, I did both, doing a double degree in mechatronic engineering and physics.  Throughout my degree I still couldn’t decide between them, but became increasingly aware of how much engineering went into physics experiments.  In particular, I became interested in the various systems needed to build telescopes.  As it came to honours I emailed various people working in the field and discovered the project I currently work on, looking at bringing the technologies of quantum computing to astronomy.  I have since moved more towards the quantum side of this project, but remain interested in further developments in astronomical instrumentation.

What’s the best thing about your role?

Always having new and interesting problems to solve, whether it’s working out how to use and automate a new piece of equipment in the lab, or discovering new physics in our experiments.

What advice would you give you someone considering studying physics?

Academic marks should never stop you doing something you love; higher marks will make things easier but there are always other ways to get in.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy sailing and bushwalking and various other hobbies that get me outside of the windowless lab, although I don’t always get the chance to enjoy them as often as I would like.

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