German-Canadian search for quantum effects in new materials

Contract signed with the University of British Columbia for a joint Max Planck UBC Centre for Quantum Materials

February 20, 2012

The Max Planck UBC Centre for Quantum Materials established jointly by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and the University of British Columbia started its work in 2011. The starting signal was given by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2010. On 20 February 2012 the President of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Peter Gruss, and the President of the University of British Columbia, Stephen Toope, signed the official inauguration agreement in Vancouver.

Max Planck President Peter Gruss and UBC president Stephen J. Toop at the signing ceremony of the new Max Planck UBC Centre for Quantum Materials.

"In the Max Planck UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, we have created a platform that not only enables leading materials science researchers from Canada and Germany to pool their expertise, but that also facilitates the training and fostering of young scientists from both countries," says Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society. For over a year now, the new centre has brought together physicists, chemists, and materials researchers from the two countries who investigate the quantum effects of new materials on an interdisciplinary basis. These include in particular magnetism and superconductivity, as well as the behaviour of electrons at surfaces and interfaces, which is of great importance to microelectronics and catalysis research, for example.

Moreover, research opportunities are provided for the various stages of a scientist’s career: for instance, as a guest scientist for several months, or as a doctoral student or postdoc for a number of years. Max Planck UBC fellowships are also awarded. The selected candidates thus have the opportunity to conduct research in an international environment. Furthermore, the diverse research groups participating at the Centre offer positions for doctoral students and postdocs.

A further attractive option is the summer schools for junior scientists. These events have already taken place twice, in Stuttgart (2010) and in Vancouver (2011). The participants thus have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the research culture of the other country at an early stage of their career.

Bernhard Keimer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, who heads the Max Planck UBC Centre for Quantum Materials together with George Sawatzky of the University of British Columbia, has a positive assessment after one year: “In my view, the Centre functions very well. And after one year we already have the first scientific results. We have also launched a few new initiatives, including a programme that allows young Canadian students to spend several months at a Max Planck institute and thereby gain insight at an early stage into research and career opportunities in Germany.”

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