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Ninth German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher at Moscow State University Focuses on Quantum Physics

(09.10.19) In late September, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) organised the ninth German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher under the umbrella of the German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH Moscow). 50 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and professors from Germany and Russia presented their work on quantum physics at Moscow State University (MSU). At the formal opening, approximately 70 participants and guests were welcomed by MSU Vice-Rector Prof. Dr. Andrey Fedyanin and the Permanent Deputy Ambassador in Moscow, Beate Grzeski, as well as Dr. Michael Harms (DAAD) and Dr. Jörn Achterberg (DFG).

The ninth Week of the Young Researcher fitted in well with the German-Russian Year of University Cooperation and Research 2018–2020. In her welcome speech, Beate Grzeski underlined that the purpose of this themed year, announced by the foreign ministers of both countries in 2018, and the German-Russian Roadmap for Cooperation in Education, Science, Research and Innovation, is to promote institutional cooperation between universities and research organisations – and the German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher is a good example of this. Bilateral events such as this offer excellent networking opportunities for early career researchers, added Jörn Achterberg. The German delegation was then received by the dean of the Faculty of Physics, Prof. Dr. Nikolay Sysoev, for further discussions.

Opening of German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher at Moscow State University
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Opening of German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher at Moscow State University

© DWIH/Sergey Teplyakov

Dr. Maria Chekhova from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (Erlangen) introduced the theme for the week from a quantum optics perspective with her presentation on "Generation of Entangled Photons". Vice-Rector Fedyanin then focused on solid-state physics with his presentation on "Nonlinear and Tunable All-Dielectric Metasurfaces". The German side was also represented by Dieter Weiss (Regensburg), Isabelle Staude (Jena), Mario Agio (Siegen) and Nicolas Joly (Erlangen-Nuremberg), as well as 15 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from Paderborn, Rostock and Berlin. Together with their Russian colleagues from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Novosibirsk and Nizhny Novgorod, they discussed questions in photonics, quantum optics, light-matter interactions in nanostructures, single-photon sources, spintronics, quantum computers and quantum communication.

In addition to the formal presentations, which illuminated many aspects of light-matter interactions in quantum systems, researchers from both countries were able to present their work in various formats, including discussion and poster sessions. At a round table, Prof. Dr. Kulik (MSU) and Dr. Chekhova initiated a discussion of recently announced work on quantum supremacy – the as yet unpublished data is claimed to show that a computer based on quantum systems can perform calculations that are beyond the scope of a classical computer. The participants in Week of the Young Researcher also paid a visit to MSU's Center for Quantum Technologies. Established in 2017 and headed by Prof. Dr. Kulik, the centre conducts research in fields such as quantum cryptography, quantum information and quantum simulators.

One aim of the German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher is to make researchers aware of the wide range of bilateral research funding programmes. The German research and funding organisations represented at DWIH Moscow, such as the DAAD, the DFG, the Helmholtz Association, the Fraunhofer Society, the Free University of Berlin, the University Alliance Ruhr and representatives of the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia, were invited by the organisers to contribute to this. Participants were able to learn about international programmes at a Science Café. The Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF), both partner organisations of the DFG, also presented their programmes. In addition, the programme for 2019 included a section on early career support. Dr. Astrid Evers from the DFG's Research Careers division and Nadezhda Krasikova from the DAAD's Moscow office reported on current funding programmes for students, doctoral researchers and postdocs.

Alongside the Week of the Young Researcher, the DFG delegation with Dr. Cosima Schuster (Physics and Chemistry), Dr. Astrid Evers (Research Careers), Dr. Jörn Achterberg (International Affairs) and Mechthild Köhler participated in a workshop with the Russian Science Foundation. During the workshop, the partners discussed their experiences of supporting early career researchers. Dr. Astrid Evers explained the Walter Benjamin Programme, launched in 2019. Dr. Cosima Schuster (Physics and Chemistry division) reported on joint review procedures and the reciprocal recognition of results in international calls with DFG partner organisations.

The basic purpose of the Week of the Young Researcher format is to encourage wider networking and stronger collaboration between early career researchers. It incorporates interdisciplinary and forward-looking themes reflecting key current issues or potential in bilateral cooperation between Germany and Russia. The Weeks of the Young Researcher were set up in 2011 as an initiative of the DAAD and DFG as part of the German-Russian Year of Science, Education and Innovation. Held once a year at changing locations in Russia, they focus on a different topic each year. The events are organised in partnership with leading Russian universities and research centres (in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk).

The DFG has previously engaged in some very successful collaboration with MSU. In October 2018, at the opening of the All-Russian Festival of Science, DFG President Peter Strohschneider and the Rector of MSU, Viktor Sadovnichy, signed a joint letter of intent on the expansion of the cooperation. On the day before the summer reception, the Faculty of Physics at MSU arranged a joint workshop with the DFG on "Funding Opportunities for Scientific Cooperation between Russia and Germany". The DFG and MSU have also jointly organised three lectures by Leibniz Prize recipients, most recently at the Faculty of Physics in 2017, when the lecture was delivered by former DFG Vice President Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ertmer on quantum optics. The tremendous potential for scientific cooperation with the university is reflected in the funding statistics of the DFG, which has funded more than 100 German-Russian research projects at MSU in the last ten years, including two International Research Training Groups.

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