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Humboldt Fellow at the Peter Grünberg Institute Investigates Materials for “Green IT”

August 20, 2012

Aguliera_I_jpgDr. Irene Aguilera
Source: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Within the framework of a research fellowship awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, physicist Dr. Irene Aguilera will work for the next two years at the Peter Grünberg Institute from November onwards.  In Prof. Stefan Blügel’s group in the division Quantum Theory of Materials (PGI-1/IAS-1), the theoretical physicist will investigate so-called “topological insulators”, novel materials with great potential for applications in information technologies.

Topological insulators are insulators only on the inside.  On their surfaces and edges, they conduct electric currents faster and with less resistivity and heat emission than conventional materials.  This makes them promising candidates for the development of faster and more energy-efficient computers and mobile phones.  The importance of energy efficiency is commonly felt by everyone in terms of chips heating up, or laptop batteries quickly running down. Furthermore, it is one of the greatest challenges in the transition from peta to exaflop computing. Topological insulators could make the development of new spintronic components possible and thus form the basis of a new “green” information technology.     

Using methods from theoretical physics, Aguilera aims to find suitable materials and analyze their electronic structure along with their capability to conduct electric currents.  Her work is closely linked to the Virtual Institute for Topological Insulators, which Forschungszentrum Jülich, RWTH Aachen, the University of Würzburg and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology founded this year.

Born in Spain, Aguilera completed her Ph.D. at the Institute of Solar Energy at the Technical University of Madrid, on the “Optoelectronic Characterization by Advanced Ab-Initio Methods of Novel Photovoltaic Intermediate-Band Materials".  She also received a special award for the best doctoral thesis in her research area.  She joined the Peter Grünberg Institute initially as a Guest Scientist in January 2012, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher from April onwards.  Before the start of the research fellowship, she will first attend a two-month intensive German language course at the Goethe Institute in Bonn, also funded by the Humboldt Foundation.                                                                                                           

Research at the division “Quantum Theory of Materials” (PGI-1/IAS-1):
http://www.fz-juelich.de/pgi/pgi-1/EN/Home/home_node.html

Press release from 29.6.2012  “Funding approved for new virtual institute for topological insulators”:
http://www.fz-juelich.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/UK/EN/2012/12-06-29Virtuelles_Institut.html


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