Brussels, May 2005
In order to promote increased collaboration between nanoscience researchers in Europe, the EU is to part-finance the creation of a European Theoretical Spectroscopy Facility (ETSF) along the lines of existing European synchrotron laboratories.
The ETSF is an initiative put forward by the Nanoquanta Network of Excellence, funded under the nanotechnologies strand of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), with additional resources provided by national research funding organisations. The countries represented in the network are: the UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France and Spain.
The project builds on fifteen years of successful collaboration between leading condensed matter theory groups in Europe, whose work focuses on the properties of electronic excited states in matter, particularly nanostructures.
According to Lucia Reining, research director at the École Polytechnique in Paris: 'Over the last two decades, European research and training networks have increasingly contributed to the development of scientific communities. In order to share this benefit more widely between scientists and with society, we have to find new forms of working together. The ETSF will be a major help for us to answer this challenge.'
The main objective of the ETSF will be to bring a deeper theoretical understanding of the science that underlies nanotechnologies to the wider scientific community. 'Until now,' the network states, 'support for such work by the EU and national organisations has concentrated on self-contained, fixed-term research projects and networks with no permanent opportunity for other researchers to benefit from the new theoretical and computational developments.'
In a similar way to existing synchrotron facilities, the ETSF will act as a professionally managed knowledge centre whose expertise, theory and associated software can be employed differently according to the needs and interests of its various users. At its core will be a number of collaborating research groups specialising in the theory of nanosciences or associated software developments, while users of the facility will be drawn from a much wider community, comprising researchers from both the public and private sector that wish to benefit from the latest developments in the field.
Such outreach initiatives will include the dissemination of theories, algorithms and computer programmes through publications, events and training sessions, as well as hosting visiting research teams from universities, research institutes and other organisations. The ETSF will also provide long-term training for users and doctoral students, as well as modules for Masters-level students.
Martin Stankovski, a doctoral student at The University of York, which is coordinating the Nanoquanta network, concludes: 'Nanotechnology has enormous potential for the industry, but deeper theoretical knowledge of the science involved is often missing in the broader research communities, especially in the private sector. With the ETSF we have the opportunity to get the experience and knowledge of our research out where it will be of direct use.'
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