The International Helmholtz Research School NANONET is a structured doctoral program which promotes the education of the next generation of scientists in molecular electronics while at the same time striving to advance this field of research. It seeks to determine how atoms and molecules may be functionalized and designed so that they can switch information; thus, making them the smallest possible transistors.
That's at least what the scientists are hoping to accomplish who are working together with Dr. Artur Erbe from the HZDR. Dr. Erbe is also the spokesperson of the new International Helmholtz Research School: "At the moment, individual molecules are the smallest components imaginable which can be integrated into a processor. It's our vision to develop components which create a circuit all by themselves. That's a really exciting research field which should drastically lower production costs in the chip industry by significantly reducing the consumption of energy," notes Artur Erbe.
This research approach belongs to the "bottom up methods" in which many scientists see the future of microelectronics. Because with the current "top down" technologies, transistors may only be reduced up to a specific size which according to the American entrepreneur Gordon Moore will be reached soon. That's why scientists are taking the opposite approach today by constructing complex structures out of individual molecules and atoms. "Within the scope of the research alliance DRESDEN-concept, we're already conducting intense research in this field with our partners. And now we want to deliberately foster the next generation of scientific researchers," notes Artur Erbe.
Every three years, up to 25 international doctoral candidates will be educated in the International Helmholtz Research School NANONET. Applicants are welcome from such diverse fields as physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, and materials science. They have to participate in a selection process and present a topic that's of relevance to molecular electronics and about which they plan to write their dissertation. The successful candidates who are selected for the NANONET doctoral program will get, on the one hand, a thorough and highly interdisciplinary scientific education; including the possibility of conducting their doctoral studies with greater flexibility than usual. The doctoral program also conveys specific knowledge in research management which is becoming increasingly more relevant to the career of scientists today, for example, when seeking to successfully procure third-party funding. Every doctoral candidate will be supervised by a scientist at one of the five partner institutes. Academically, the NANONET doctoral program will be carried out at three TU Dresden faculties (mechanical science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mathematics and natural sciences) with a specific focus on an interdisciplinary education. The Research School with its 15 renowned scientists has, thus, a clear strategy to ensure the successful cooperation between the various fields.
In addition to NANONET, the Helmholtz Association is also supporting four other International Helmholtz Research Schools and two Helmholtz Graduate Schools this year in order to provide the best possible support to the next generation of researchers while they're still doctoral candidates.