MAINZ Graduate School of Excellence awards Visiting Professorships 2015

Oxford theoretical physicist Dieter Jaksch and spintronics expert Thierry Valet have been awarded MAINZ Visiting Professorships


The Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ) has awarded the 2015 MAINZ Visiting Professorships to two European researchers. The Visiting Professorships went to Professor Dieter Jaksch of the University of Oxford, England, and Thierry Valet from France. Visiting Professorships are used to attract foreign scientists to the various departments of the MAINZ Graduate School so that they undertake part of their research here and on this occasion work with the doctoral candidates studying at MAINZ. The Visiting Professorships have been awarded to up to two winners each year since 2013. The award winners are invited to spend up to twelve months working at MAINZ during a two year period. Their input can take the form of lectures, workshops, or other contributions which help the training of doctoral candidates. They thus provide important new educational stimuli and in turn help establish a relationship between MAINZ and their home universities.

Professor Dieter Jaksch is among the most renowned theoretical physicists in the field of ultracold quantum gases and quantum optics with an outstanding record of scientific achievements and a high reputation as an excellent teacher. His seminal paper on cold bosonic atoms in optical lattices published in 1998 has laid the theoretical foundations for the groundbreaking experiments conducted in the group of Nobel Laureate Theodor Hänsch and MAINZ Alumnus Immanuel Bloch and their group on the realization of the Bose-Hubbard model with ultracold quantum gases. It also led to the first observation of the Mott insulator-to-superfluid transition in these systems. This influential work, which by now has more than 2,000 citations, has triggered a completely new field of research: the use of ultracold quantum gases in optical lattices as a model system for the investigation of many-body systems. Dieter Jaksch studied physics at the University of Innsbruck where he also obtained his doctorate. He has been a professor of physics at the University of Oxford since 2010 and was made Head of Atomic and Laser Physics section of the Oxford’s Department of Physics in 2014. Jaksch is considered an outstanding teacher and lecturer. The doctoral students at MAINZ will benefit from his lectures on numerical methods and the physics of lattice gases which will be held at both locations of the graduate school – in Mainz and in Kaiserslautern.

Thierry Valet is considered one of the most renowned and influential industry-based physicists in the field of spintronics. He combines deep insight and a broad understanding of theoretical physics and materials science with a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit. His main focus is on spintronics and its applications for magnetic storage. His international fame is based primarily on the contribution he made towards establishing the Valet-Fert model which was presented in 1993. This model describes Current Perpendicular to the Plane Giant Magneto Resistance (CPPGMR) which introduced a now ubiquitous semi-classical framework to model spin transport and is expected to become key in modeling next generation HDD readers. The work has been cited over 1,000 times. Valet holds numerous patents for highly innovative component designs which are used in many computer applications such as multitrack read-out heads. Thierry Valet has worked in various positions in research and development for 25 years. Enterprises which have benefited from his input include big high-tech companies such as Thompson CSF as well as small, innovative start-up companies such as, most recently, In Silicio SAS, in Aix en Provence in France. For the MAINZ students, Valet’s Visiting Professorship will bring new insight on how academic, industrial, and entrepreneurial careers can be combined.

The MAINZ Graduate School of Excellence was originally approved as part of the German Federal and State Excellence Initiative in 2007 and received a five-year funding extension in the second round in 2012 – a tremendous boost for Mainz-based materials science and the sponsorship of young researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The graduate school consists of work groups at Mainz University, the Technical University Kaiserslautern, and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and offers excellent national and international doctoral candidates in natural science disciplines an exceptional training in materials science.