University of Bayreuth, Presse release No. 183/2022 - 10 November 2022
Nature as a model in semiconductor research: DFG funds International Research Training Group at the University of Bayreuth
The University of Bayreuth, together with two Australian partner universities, the University of Melbourne and Monash University, is establishing a new International Research Training Group (IRTG) in the field of semiconductor research. The college will start in spring 2023 and will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with more than six million euros for an initial period of five years. Outstanding young talents from the fields of physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering will be able to apply from December 2022 for admission to the International Research Training Group and an associated position as a researcher with the aim of obtaining a doctorate.
The Bavarian State Minister for Science and the Arts, Markus Blume, congratulates: „With this new International Research Training Group, the DFG is honouring the University of Bayreuth as a top location for globally networked cutting-edge research carried out by outstanding scientific talents! Congratulations on the successful research proposal, and good luck to the future interdisciplinary team of young researchers that will be taking an innovative research approach to organic and inorganic semiconductors!“
The International Research Training Group "Optical Excitations in Organic and Inorganic Semiconductors: Understanding and Controlling by External Stimuli" differs from previous semiconductor research by a fundamentally new approach: The research work aims at controlling properties and functions of semiconductors by external factors – namely by light, electromagnetic fields or material self-organization processes in the direct environment. In particular, the impact of nanostructuring on excitations in organic semiconductors and inorganic semiconductors will be compared. Systems existing in nature for the absorption and transmission of light energy will serve as a model.
So far, the functions of semiconductors are mainly defined by chemical and physical properties of their components, and organic and inorganic semiconductors are treated as separate research areas. The new bioinspired research approach will overcome these demarcations: Following nature as a guide, adaptable principles of external control will be developed that are transferable to organic as well as inorganic materials and thus applicable across materials. The research training group headed by Prof. Dr. Anna Köhler, an experimental physicist from Bayreuth, is therefore decidedly interdisciplinary: Concepts and methods from physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering are linked in all projects. Cooperation partners in research and teaching are two of Australia's leading universities, the University of Melbourne and Monash University. Both are located in Melbourne, where the University of Bayreuth has maintained a "Gateway Office" for four years to intensify scientific cooperation. Both locations are also linked in the field of polymer sciences by the DAAD-funded "Bayreuth-Melbourne Polymer/Colloid-Network".
"Semiconductors have a key function in central technological areas, from photovoltaics to artificial intelligence. I am very pleased that with the new DFG Research Training Group, the University of Bayreuth will develop into an internationally networked location of top-level research in this field – based on an innovative research concept that makes findings in biomimetics fruitful for future semiconductor technologies. The dovetailing of theoretical and experimental research in various disciplines, which is characteristic of the IRTG and the entire University of Bayreuth, as well as the intensive cooperation between physics and chemistry since the founding of the University of Bayreuth, offers the best conditions for this," says University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible.
"The goal of our Research Training Group, to explore and test ways to an external control of organic and inorganic semiconductors based on light and matter, is by no means just a topic for a few specialists. It concerns important fields of the future in general, for example new forms of sustainable energy generation and a careful use of resources. For example, external control of material parameters could significantly increase the efficiency of solar power systems. And if the functionalities of semiconductors no longer depend as much as they do today on the properties of the materials used, new potentials may arise for saving rare materials, which are currently the focus of international competition for raw materials," says Prof. Dr. Anna Köhler, who holds the Chair of Optoelectronics of Soft Matter at the University of Bayreuth.
Young scientists who want to advance an innovative and future-oriented PhD project will be able to use an excellent infra-structure for basic research in Bayreuth and Melbourne, for example state-of-the-art techniques in the fields of microscopy, spectroscopy and optoelectronics. They participate in a scientific training programme that ensures intensive individual support: both with regard to current research work and with regard to long-term career planning. The training programme not only aims to strengthen the doctoral candidates' professional skills, but also to promote their general personal development. One focus is the continuous scientific exchange in multinational working groups. New ways of transferring knowledge to the economy and society are also the subject of workshops and seminars.
The new International Research Training Group ties in thematically and methodologically with the interdisciplinary Research Training Group "Photophysics of Synthetic and Biological Multichromophoric Systems" headed by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Köhler, which was funded by the DFG at the University of Bayreuth from 2010 to 2019. Comparative studies on light absorption and energy transport in biological and synthetic systems have been very successful and have opened up exciting career paths in science and industry for outstanding young talents. This experience will be a valuable basis for close collaboration between the Bayreuth and Melbourne research sites in the new IRTG.