Faculty Kolloquium and visit to the ITP

We were most happy to welcome Stephanie Wehner (TU Delft) to visit the Institute and deliver the last Faculty Kolloquium of the year 2015. Stephanie presented a very nice and pedagogical talk on the foundations of quantum thermodynamics. She also discussed her recent work on the revision of the concept of Carnot maximal efficiency for quantum thermal machines, which does not only depend on the temperature of the heat reservoirs. These are results in collaboration with Mischa Woods, a former PhD student of the Institute. You can read all details in arXiv:1506.02322


There was also time for discussions Followed by a hearty Schwabian dinner of Goose and Rotkraut at the Zunfthaus in the Fischerviertel to celebrate the Christmas season.

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Stephanie was lucky with the weather and also brave enough to climb the tower of the Ulmer Münster (768 steps to reach the top) before catching the train home. The Münster is the one of the five tallest structures to be completed last century, with the steeple of almost 162 meters, the tallest church in the world. Below you can see two fantastic pictures she took in her ascent.

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Winter Semester 2015/16 kicks off

And with it, the Monday faculty colloquium. Hosted by Wolfgang Schleich, the first speaker this season has been Prof. Wojciech Zurek, Einstein Professor at Ulm University and a researcher at Los Alamos State Laboratory. Besides revising some aspects of his well-known theory of decoherence, Wojciech presented his approach to a minimal derivation of the quantum formalism in terms of the concept of “Envariance” (Environment assisted invariance) of composite quantum states. This allows for Born rule to feature as derived result rather than an additional postulate. There were plenty of questions and agitated discussions showing that nothing stimulates physicists more than a good dose of foundations. You can check the technical details of Wojciech work’s on the concept of envariance in   W. H. Zurek, Probabilities from entanglement, Borns rule from envariance, quant-ph/0405161, Phys. Rev. A 71, 052105 (2005) .

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Recent and not so recent moves

Recent and not so recent moves

Dr Shai Machnes has finished his contract in Ulm and took up a postdoctoral research position at the Chemical Physics Department of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in the group of David Tannor.  Shai gave a finishing lecture on the relation between coffee, alcohol consumption and scientific productivity to great acclaim.


Later we had a farewell where we enjoyed the largest Wiener Schnitzels north of the Danube.



Brave individuals, like Robert and Felipe, managed to finish the whole portion (check the photo to appreciate the magnitude of their achievement), but fortunately for the rest, there was also the possibility to ask for doggy bags!

We will miss Shai’s good humour and sharpness and wish him the best for his return to Israel.


Dr Javier Cerrillo joins MIT

Last spring Javier Cerrillo successfully finished his PhD and had his viva at Imperial College London.  He is now in Boston, after having joined the group of Prof. Jianshu Cao (http://web.mit.edu/jianshucaogroup/people.html) to focus on themes related to energy transfer in photosynthetic systems, a topic where we are also actively working. Our Institute is linked with Jianshu’s group via a MIT-Germany Seed Fund grant and we expect to visit Javi at MIT in 2013.


Prof. Martin Plenio wins the 2012 Max-Born prize

For his ground-breaking contributions to the theory of entanglement and its applications which have stimulated and guided the development of practical realisations of quantum information processing and the control of quantum dynamics. Press release in german from the university of Ulm can be found here.