Creating the next generation of nanoscientists

Opening of the "International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nanostructures" on October 11, 2005 in Halle/Saale

October 11, 2005

On October 11, 2005, at 3 pm, in Halle/Saale, Germany, an international research and teaching centre will begin its work to educate the next generation of scientists in the area of nanostructures. At the International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nanostructures, particularly gifted German and foreign students will have the opportunity to prepare themselves to receive a doctorate in the field of nanostructured materials. The Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, the department of physics at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials in Halle together developed this research and education programme.

The opening celebration, in the lecture hall at Theodor-Lieser-Straße 2 (IAMO) in Halle, will begin with greetings by a spokesman for the Research School, Professor Juergen Kirschner, Director of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics. After him there will be welcoming speeches by Wolfgang Boehm, the State Secretary of Science and Culture in the Ministry of Culture of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Professor Wilfried Grecksch, the Rector of Martin Luther University, and Dagmar Szabados, Mayor of the city of Halle.

State Secretary Boehm will then present certificates of admission to the doctoral candidates of the first class year at the Research School in Halle. Dr Monika Kampfe, Coordinator of the Research School, will briefly introduce each of the 15 scholarship holders.

In the second part of the celebration, the participating institutions will give an insight into their subjects of research. Professor Ingrid Mertig, Dean of the department of physics at the University of Halle, will speak on the topic "From Quantum Mechanics to Spinelectronics". Professor Peter Gumbsch, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials (Freiburg and Halle) will give a lecture on "Nanoscale Concepts for Mechanics of Materials". Professor Patrick Bruno, the Director of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics, will talk on "Nanostructure Research at the MPI of Microstructure Physics".

The education of the next generation of scientists is of decisive importance for the future of research and innovation in Germany. For this reason, the Max Planck Society, together with the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, an association of universities and other higher education institutions in Germany, grounded the International Max Planck Research Schools. They offer German and foreign students the opportunity to prepare for doctoral work following their initial university study, in carefully chosen sites with excellent education and research conditions, among them Max Planck Institutes and related universities and scientific institutions. Because Max Planck Institutes do not have the right to grant doctorates, the doctoral examination can be taken at a choice of one of the participating German universities, or the student’s home university.

The Max Planck Research Schools choose their doctoral students from an international pool based on their qualifications and how well they match the particular area of research. Through the co-operation of the Max Planck Institutes and the participating scientific institutions, the doctoral students have educational and research opportunities with all the participating partners. Interdisciplinary research projects or scientific papers that require a particular configuration of equipment or materials can be of much higher quality than during isolated doctoral work.

The goal of the research school is to give knowledge and skills to the participants in their particular area of research that are important for a career in that field. Particular value is placed on an international environment and interdisciplinary work. The 15 doctoral students, whose education will begin in the next winter semester at the International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nanostructures in Halle, were chosen in a multi-step process from applicants from five continents. They have degrees in physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering.

Together they are interested in nanosciences - that is, the production and investigation of structures that are about ten thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair: one nanometer (stemming from the Greek word "nanos", dwarf) is equal to one millionth of a millimeter. In these very small dimensions, materials have greatly different characteristics than larger objects that we know from our daily life. The nanosciences are a key technology of the 21st century, and experts are of the opinion that Germany is playing a leading role in the field.

The International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nanostructures in Halle offers the 15 future scientists a special teaching programme of lectures, seminars, and workshops. Participants will be integrated into current research, learning firsthand diverse theoretical and experimental aspects of those projects, for example electronic, magnetic, and optical characteristics at the nanoscale, spin electronics, nano-contacts or the synthesis of nanostructures. Scientists from all three participating institutions of the Research School in Halle have been working successfully for years in their fields and have gathered experience that they can now pass on to the younger generation.

In addition, courses will be offered in fields like rhetoric or scientific publishing. The foreign doctoral students also have the chance to participate in German language courses.

The International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nanostructures in Halle will, at first, be set up for a period of six years. In this time, up to 60 young scientists will write their dissertations. The Max Planck Society is financing the Research School in Halle with about 2.2 million euros. This financing is in addition to support by the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The state government made available six doctoral places as part of the its "excellence initiative". After four years, a scientific commission will evaluate the Research School more closely and decide whether to extend its time frame.

Not only in Halle but at other locations across Germany, the Max Planck Society has opened in total 37 International Max Planck Research Schools since the winter semester 2000/2001 - in partnership with Max Planck Institutes, German and foreign universities, and other research institutions. As centres of scientific excellence, the International Max Planck Research Schools offer the next generation of researchers from all nations educational opportunities of the highest international standards in modern scientific fields, for example molecular biology, neurosciences, computer science, demography, plasma physics and polymer research. In this way, international co-operation can be strengthened: Max Planck Research Schools do not wish only to have foreign applicants receive their doctorate in Germany, but also to make themselves familiar with German research institutions and raise interest in later work or co-operation with the German institutions. For this reason, at least half of the spaces are reserved for students coming from abroad.

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