Hans Christian Schneider, Professor of Physics at Kaiserslautern University and its research center OPTIMAS, visited the department as part of an ongoing collaboration with Ionel Tifrea on various projects relating to condensed-matter nanoscience.
In his colloquium, Christian presented recent experimental results in the field of femtosecond laser-induced spin-dynamics in semiconductors and ferromagnets and discussed some of the theoretical concepts he and his Kaiserslautern group have developed in the description of these phenomena.
Christian stressed that electron spin has been exploited extensively in magneto-electronic devices, such as hard disks. Device designs have approached the nanoscale, but the switching times have not quite followed suit, and are still much longer than what is available in state-of-the-art laser labs. Consequently, he noted, there is a huge interest to understand spin dynamics in solids (ferromagnets, metals, semiconductors) at ultrashort timescales, especially femtosecond opto-magnetism.
Christian also described for our physics majors the German physics curriculum and what is generally involved in and would be expected of American students getting a PhD in Germany. For example, bachelor and masters students need to speak German to apply, whereas PhD students do not. Bachelor and masters students do not pay tuition, however, and PhD students typically receive reasonably well paid stipends. He pointed out that US students also have excellent opportunities through the German academic exchange service DAAD.
Thank you Christian for the informative visit!