Mainz University opens Spin Phenomena Interdisciplinary Center to accelerate spin research

New research center SPICE will bring together researchers from different disciplines to study spin-related phenomena


Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) today officially opened its new Spin Phenomena Interdisciplinary Center (SPICE), which will facilitate interactions between the many diverse fields that study spin-related phenomena – at a level that each field could not achieve on its own. Thereby, SPICE addresses one of the grand challenges of the new century: to shorten the time of discovery of novel phenomena and the creation of new multi-functional advanced materials that need the knowledge of more than one field to emerge. SPICE is sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The new research center at Mainz University focuses on spin phenomena because they are present in many areas of materials and fundamental science. The spin can be explained as the rotation of the electron around its own axis generating a magnetic field. This is the basis of today’s information storage technology and has provided new design possibilities in many fields of application: from faster electronics to new high-capacity data storage concepts up to new ways to create advanced materials with directly designed properties. Because the spin belongs to the fundamental basics of quantum mechanics, which rules the microscopic world, it fascinates not only both experimentally and theoretically working physicists and chemists, but also mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers.

"The idea of SPICE is to bring together researchers from different disciplines to tackle the hardest scientific challenges at a level that each field could not achieve on its own," said Professor Jairo Sinova, Managing Director of SPICE and holder of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship at the Institute of Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "The best scientific learning and discovery occurs outside one's comfort zone. At SPICE we want to create a challenging and inspiring atmosphere that encourages our scientists to take unconventional perspectives and to look beyond the current frontiers of spin-related science." Sinova imagines a fruitful exchange not only with natural scientists: "Even literary scholars or artists dealing with the issue are welcome partners."

SPICE offers different formats for interdisciplinary exchange. In workshops, researchers and scholars of different fields will share their latest developments and intermix this with high-level tutorials to inform each other; a young research leader workshop puts the next generation of top researchers in the lead as keynote speakers and leaders of workshops. SPICE also offers visiting scholars the possibility to do their research in Mainz for a few days, weeks, or even months.

"Mainz University offers a particularly fertile environment for SPICE since it already is a prominent place for spin-related research", emphasized the President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Professor Georg Krausch. "Therefore, we thank the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the State of Rhineland-Palatinate for their commitment and we are looking forward to lively interdisciplinary events and fruitful exchange at the highest level." In addition to the Interdisciplinary Spintronics Research Group (INSPIRE) under the direction of Professor Jairo Sinova, other groups at Mainz University – including the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ), the Center for Innovative Emerging Materials (CINEMA), and the Mainz Institute for Theoretical Physics (MITP) – also seek out this promising new research area.

Several scientists have already experienced SPICE in this excellent environment. The Israeli physicists Professor Ora Entin-Wohlman and Professor Amnon Aharony spent two weeks at Mainz University. And the French physicist Thierry Valet, known for his contributions to the understanding of the giant magneto-resistance effect and the Valet-Fert-theory, visited INSPIRE and SPICE.