ERC Starting Grant for Martin Eckstein

Junior research group leader of the Hamburg-based MPSD receives a €1.5 million Starting Grant of the European Research Council for his research on ultrafast dynamics in complex materials

September 26, 2016

In his research proposal “Theory of ultra-fast dynamics in correlated multi-band systems”, Martin Eckstein and his group plan to investigate how state-of-the-art laser spectroscopy can be used to manipulate solids on the extremely short timescale of femtoseconds. For comparison, one femtosecond is only one millionth of the processor clock time in a modern computer.

In this context, complex material properties such as magnetism and superconductivity are of particular interest. These properties often emerge in so-called multi-band systems, in which the electrons can take several possible configurations at each atom. In his research, Martin Eckstein would like to obtain a theoretical understanding how these configurations evolve in time under the influence of strong laser light, and how this can bring about collective behavior, like in a swarm of birds, which are suddenly all flying in the same direction. With this understanding, one could develop concepts to generate entirely new states by the interaction of light and matter, or to switch between states with different properties in an extremely short time. Such experiments could, for example, also form the basis for new ultrafast communication technology.

“It is a great honor for me that the ERC has decided to support my research so generously,” says Martin Eckstein. “The MPSD in Hamburg is an internationally renowned institution in the very active field of ultrafast dynamics. It has already been an ideal environment for the work leading to the ERC proposal, and I am looking forward to exciting research in the coming five years.”

Martin Eckstein studied physics at the University of Augsburg, which also awarded him a doctorate in theoretical solid state physics in 2009. Subsequently, he spent a two-year postdoctoral research stay at the ETH Zürich. Since October 2011 he leads a junior research group at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter and is professor at the University of Hamburg.

ERC Starting Grants are awarded annually. They are designed to encourage young talented research leaders to gain independence in Europe and to build their own careers. The program supports research projects conducted at public or private research organizations in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries with funding of up to € 1.5 million over a period of up to 5 years. The sole evaluation criterion is the scientific excellence of the researcher and the research proposal.

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