For Ilkka Pohjalainen it was only logical to come from Finland to GSI for a whole year– he had already been working with the FAIR project during his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Jyväskylä. “It is quite nice to have the opportunity to come to one of the top facilities for heavy ion research in the world”, he states. In addition, he claims, Finland is not that far away from home due to the nearby international airport of Frankfurt.
At least this was his what he originally thought before he arrived in Darmstadt in December 2020 – before the obstacles caused by mutating viruses, quarantine regulations and travel restrictions. Not being able to visits relatives and friends was very hard especially during the holiday season – but Ilkka is in the fortunate position of being joined by his Finnish partner. As his partner has a background in information technology it was easy for him to find a job in the region. And the couple came with their car, which gave them the opportunity to do some sightseeing (“castles from the outside”) and reduced the immediate feeling of being locked in.
Both practical and computer work
What does Ilkka like about his job at GSI and FAIR? “It allows me to combine computer work and craft work”, he finds. Ilkka already participated in the SuperFRS project in Finland – the project designed to produce, separate and investigate extremely rare and short-lived isotopes that naturally occur in supernova explosions as part of radioactive decay chains eventually resulting in stable heavy elements that can be found on earth, for example. In Darmstadt, Ilkka works on the details of a short beamline of about one meter in length, a so-called re-trapping beamline within the Multi-Reflection Time-of-Flight Mass Spectometer. This short beamline serves to slow down the exotic nuclei and deliver them to downstream experiments.
“The stay at GSI and FAIR broadens my horizon”, Ilkka says. After the year in Germany he plans to return to the University of Jyväskylä to continue to do research within the collaboration, and until then, he and his partner plan to see a bit more of Germany (and the Germans), as summer comes and incidence rates are falling – a castle from the inside, for example, and probably some beer gardens. (mbe)
GET_Involved –Postdoctoral Research Experience-Stay of Ilkka Pohjalainen, Ph.D., University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Funding: GET_INvolved Research scholarship
Duration: 1 year
Application to GET_INvolved Programme: https://fair-center.eu/get_involved