Student's Story - Max Meunier (PhD candidate, CRHEA), Docwalker 2022 laureate


In 2022, Max Meunier was one of the 6 doctoral students to win a DocWalker grant from the Academy of Excellence "Networks, Information and Digital Society", which allowed him to spend 2 months in a laboratory in Singapore. Back in France, he tells us about his experience.

2023, May 30

Max Meunier
PhD candidate at CRHEA (2020-2023) and laureate of a DocWalker mobility grant in 2022

What is your area of ​​research?

I am a doctoral student in physics at the Center for Research on Hetero-Epitaxy and its Applications (CRHEA), a CNRS-University Côte d'Azur laboratory located in Sophia Antipolis which focuses on semiconductor materials. More precisely, I work on "single-photon emitters", that is to say rather particular sources of light. With these technological devices, we can generate and emit photons individually, one photon at a time. This paves the way for significant advances in areas such as quantum communication and quantum computing.

How did your international mobility project start?

To characterize single-photon emitters, special detectors are needed, which CRHEA does not have. As part of a scientific collaboration with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), we manufacture samples at the CRHEA in France and send them to Professor Weibo Gao's team in Singapore, which is equipped for these observations. This collaboration started at the same time as my thesis and will accelerate thanks to an ANR project created in 2023. When I discovered the DocWalker program, which gave me the possibility of going on site to take these measurements myself, I obviously jumped at the opportunity!

How did you prepare for your departure?

Before leaving, I first prepared as many samples as possible to observe. At the same time, the various administrations were very efficient in helping me with the formalities, obtaining the necessary financial advances to find an apartment, etc. The preparations went well, despite my apprehensions about going so far away. My thesis director, who had traveled there before me, helped me organize the "administrative" arrival in Singapore and was able to answer my various more practical questions associated with life outside the University.

Singapore @MaxMeunier

What was your daily life like?

Life in Singapore is really easy. Transport works perfectly, there are "food courts" everywhere, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with lots of different foods, typical of all Asia. Everyone chooses their "stand" (for example Indian, Korean, Chinese soups, very spicy dishes, etc.) and meet at the shared tables to eat together. It’s like a canteen but more cosmopolitan. You can find them everywhere in the city at very reasonable prices.
I had a shared room, in a "condo" (a residence) with a swimming pool. After my day at work, with 30°C even in the middle of the night, I must admit that I really enjoyed it! Wonderful!
On the weekends, I was able to visit different areas of Singapore, from the ultra-modern downtown and its huge skyscrapers, to the different districts, Indian, Chinese, Arab, etc. And finally, the wilder parts, the forests which are truly Avatar-style jungles, with crocodiles, monkeys, spiders and snakes roaming free, as we would never like to see! A sublime contrast, a stone's throw from the "Business district"!

What do you take away from this doctoral stay abroad?

I learned a lot, first from a scientific point of view: carrying out an experiment yourself is always more educational than hearing it described by someone else. Then, I discovered there other ways of working, collaborating, discussing, which were really enriching. I was able to complete certain results for my thesis which is coming to an end. And of course, I now have a much better chance of doing a post-doc in Singapore, after spending time there and meeting Professor Gao's team...

Do you have any advice for future candidates for mobility?

Go! Do not hesitate! You are offered the chance to discover the world, grab it!

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