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Spintronics: German Research Foundation Grants Funding for Collaborative Research Center

Joint Project to Receive 9.3 Million Euros over Four Years

Nummer 145/2017 vom 27. November 2017
New opportunities for cutting-edge research in ultrafast physics and nanomagnetism: Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have succeeded in winning funding for a new joint Collaborative Research Center (CRC). Within the "CRC/Transregio 227: Ultrafast Spin Dynamics" project, scientists will work together on new concepts for the ultrafast manipulation of magnetic systems at the nanoscale. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has earmarked 9.3 million euros for the joint project over the next four years. In addition to the two universities, four non-university research institutions are participating in the research.

The work of the new CRC is based on a special magnetic property of electrons: The so-called electron spin is an intrinsic form of angular momentum, which causes a magnetic moment and thus leads to magnetism. The new CRC will investigate the ultrafast change of magnetic systems. This refers to dynamics on the time scale of femtoseconds, a quadrillionth part of a second. In materials only several atoms thick, the properties can be controlled via the interfaces.

The individual subprojects of the CRC aim to advance the scientists' understanding of the underlying processes and to provide key elements for spin-based information technology, which also functions in the terahertz frequency range. For example, over the long term storage systems and information technologies could be created for use at ultra-short time scales.

"The DFG reviewers have determined that our new Collaborative Research Center ideally combines the competences of the participating universities, and that it has the potential to become a center for the investigation of ultrafast spin dynamics with international visibility," said the spokesperson for the new initiative, Prof. Dr. Martin Weinelt of Freie Universität Berlin. Prof. Dr. Georg Woltersdorf, the deputy spokesperson and a physicist at MLU, stressed that "the main field of research of our new CRC fits very well with the core research area in Halle on nanostructuring materials and complements this research with the aspect of ultrafast dynamics."

The new CRC/TRR will be funded with roughly 2.3 million euros annually from 2018 to 2022. All 18 proposed subprojects were approved for funding. It will cover 31 positions, 29 of them for doctoral researchers. In total, more than 90 employees work at the CRC.

The CRC/TRR 227 project is being carried out jointly by the two universities. Partner institutions are the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, and the Max Born Institute in Berlin.

The CRC/Transregio projects are a variant of the classical Collaborative Research Centers funded by the DFG. Up to three universities can apply jointly for research funding.

In addition to CRC/TRR 227, two other Collaborative Research Centers are currently based at MLU: CRC 762 "Functionality of Oxidic Interfaces" and CRC-Transregio 102 "Polymers under Forced Conditions: Restricted and Controlled Molecular Order and Mobility."

As of January 1, 2018, there will be ten Collaborative Research Centers based at Freie Universität and nine others with participation by Freie Universität. In addition, there are two other CRCs based at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the medical school operated jointly by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In addition to the newly approved CRC/TRR 227, there are currently two other CRCs at the Department of Physics, Freie Universität Berlin: CRC 078 "Protonation Dynamics in Protein Function" and CRC/TRR 183 "Entangled States of Matter" with the University of Cologne.


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