FNP awards academic leave stipends

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Prof. dr hab. Tomasz Wojtowicz from the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Prof. dr hab. Krzysztof Woźniak of the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Warsaw are the beneficiaries of the 2014 Academic Leave Stipends (WSN) programme of the Foundation for Polish Science. This competition is directed to Master/Mistrz Programme beneficiaries who have completed the programme (WSN information). The objective of the WSN programme is to support outstanding scholars by giving them the opportunity to take a sabbatical leave to carry out research at a renowned scientific institution abroad. The programme began in 2012, and every year the Foundation awards up to three stipends of this type.

Prof. Wojtowicz was awarded a six-month scholarship to join the Department of Physics of Purdue University in the USA, where he will be working on the project “Towards a new system with non-Abelian particles for topological quantum computations”. He will be collaborating with Prof. Leonid Rokhinson on the research project.

Prof. Wojtowicz’s research plans are a continuation of the project which he carried out using a Master/Mistrz subsidy in 2007. “The FNP makes it possible to pursue ambitious and very risky research without demanding – unlike other institutions funding science in Poland – a guarantee of success or that you stick closely to your original research plans,” he says. In his case, taking risks brought excellent results – the studies carried out by his group at the Institute of Physics led to a breakthrough in the quality of the nanostructure of AIIBVI compounds (i.e. formed from the elements of the second and sixth group of the periodic table).

Prof. Wojtowicz hopes to take advantage of Prof. Rokhinson’s Purdue group’s enormous experience in the technology of advanced nanostructuration of two-dimensional structures, in order to continue to develop his research conducted within the Master programme subsidy.

“The aim of my going there is to make the first step towards creating a new system of non-Abelian matter,” explains Prof. Wojtowicz. If this step succeeds, it will open up new directions of research which in future might lead to the creation of a unique class of devices in which all the necessary components for conducting topologically protected quantum computations could be realised for the first time.”

Prof. Woźniak, who was a Master/Mistrz subsidy beneficiary in 2008, received a five-month stipend to join the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, where he will be pursuing the project “New Ideas in Solid State Chemistry”, working with Prof. William Jones and Prof. Daan Frenkel.

During his Academic Leave Stipend, Prof. Woźniak plans to find new opportunities for applying the models of electronic density. He also intends to discuss critical observations on the limitations and errors of commonly used crystallographic methods, especially with Prof. Jones and other Cambridge researchers, as well as crystallographers from Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre.

“I would also like to use my ‘sabbatical’ as an opportunity to get away from my everyday work, a chance to get to know the issues and problems that have always been in my spectrum of interests but for which I’ve never had enough time,” says Prof. Woźniak. “It will be a time for looking at new ideas, especially related to such matters as quasiminerals, the essence of polymorphism or the nature of the process of crystallisation, as well as the methodology of monocrystalline neutronic research.”

“I am sure that a place as stimulating as Cambridge will give me many stimuli and ideas that can’t be planned and foreseen in advance, and which could become an inspiration to follow new directions of research and a fresh, stereotype-free look at questions of crystallography,” he adds. “I’m looking forward to having the chance to exchange views with my colleagues from Cambridge and to inspirational discussions”.