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German-French Workshop Paves the Way for Future Cooperation

Basis for a German-French Forum in Paris

[30. Januar 2008]

Jülich, 30 January 2008 - More than 30 scientists from Research Centre Jülich and the French research organization CEA met last week at Jülich. They spent two days discussing topics of interest for both sides. The results will form the scientific basis for a bilateral cooperation agreement. The subject of this first joint workshop was the simulation of scientific and technical problems on supercomputers. With their excellent technical resources and their outstanding research work the two institutions lead the supercomputing field in Europe.

Prof. Achim Bachem, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Research Centre, and the French High Commissioner, Bernard Bigot, welcomed the scientists to Jülich. They emphasized the great significance that they attach to cooperation between Jülich and CEA. Senior scientists from the two institutions presented the activities of their working groups. They then developed proposals for joint technology developments focusing on the supercomputers and their utilization for simulations. These simulations are envisaged in the fields of materials science and quantum technology, soft matter and biophysics, Earth system science and atmospheric physics, safety research, hadron physics and nuclear structure, as well as nuclear fusion and plasma physics.

As members of their national consortia, both centres are ready and willing to host two of the future European supercomputers. The participants therefore agreed to coordinate and harmonize the technical preparations for the installation of such systems. In the interest of the international users, the centres aim to give due consideration to the complementarity of the systems. Amongst other aspects, the German and French partners intend to improve parallel data processing with supercomputer systems, to accelerate the input and output of data, and to develop technologies to reduce energy consumption.

In the field of materials science and quantum technologies, cooperation is planned in the area of magnetic structures and switchable nanosystems. In the area of "Soft Matter and Biophysics", it is aimed to obtain an understanding of the basic mechanisms of cells. In the geosciences and atmospheric research, attention is focused on global warming, the ozone layer and the propagation of pollutants in the atmosphere. For the next UN climate report, climate simulations will be performed jointly covering periods of 200 to 300 years. These simulations will include chemical changes in the atmosphere that have so far been neglected. To this end, use will be made of the supercomputers available in future at CEA and Jülich.

The aim of joint research on nuclear safety is to develop tools for the simulation of nuclear power plants on massively parallel computers at Jülich. This will enable the safety properties of present and future reactors to be simulated and studied in detail. The cooperation in the field of hadron physics is intended to improve predictions on the structure of atomic nuclei. The interactions between a plasma and the wall of a fusion device as well as turbulent flow will be investigated by coupled simulation models. As the first step, a gyrokinetic code developed by CEA will be transferred to a Jülich supercomputer. The results are important for the construction of the international fusion experiment, ITER, on which work will begin this year at the CEA Cadarache site. Yvan Capouet from the European Commission displayed great interest in the proposals for joint activities in the field of computer simulations for fusion research, especially in the significant progressmade on the road to a joint European fusion computer at Jülich.

The results of the workshop will lay the scientific foundations for a bilateral cooperation agreement between Jülich and CEA. These findings will be presented to the research ministers of the two countries on 29 February as part of the 3rd German-French Research Forum in Paris. Jean-Paul Duraud, deputy director of CEA, invited the participants to meet again at the CEA site in a year's time to report on the results achieved so far.

Jülich is thus one of the first centres to implement the "Memorandum of Understanding” signed by the Helmholtz Association and CEA on 3 December 2007 for cooperation in the field of energy and climate research. CEA - founded in 1945 - is a French government establishment. Today, its tasks go far beyond nuclear energy. They comprise, amongst other aspects, the future energy supply, technology research and basic research in the field of materials and life sciences, and involve a staff of about 11,000.

Research Centre Jülich pursues cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on solving the grand challenges facing society in the fields of health, energy and the environment, as well as information. The interlinkage of the two key competences - physics and supercomputing - is unique. Work at Jülich focuses on both long-term, fundamental research as well as on specific technological applications. With a staff of about 4400, Jülich - a member of the Helmholtz Association - is one of the largest research centres in Europe.


Attendees at the German-French workshop pictured in front of the supercomputer centre. In the front row, the French High Commissioner Bernard Bigot (3rd from the left) and Prof. Achim Bachem (4th from the left).

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