De meningen ge-uit door medewerkers en studenten van de TU Delft en de commentaren die zijn gegeven reflecteren niet perse de mening(en) van de TU Delft. De TU Delft is dan ook niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van hetgeen op de TU Delft weblogs zichtbaar is. Wel vindt de TU Delft het belangrijk - en ook waarde toevoegend - dat medewerkers en studenten op deze, door de TU Delft gefaciliteerde, omgeving hun mening kunnen geven.

Posted in January 2010

Exam Advanced Quantum Mechanics

has been held on 19-01-2010. Today, 29-01-2010, I finished checking the results. What can I say?

This year I have had an attentive audience which has been motivating and provided strong feedback: we did have questions and discussions, I believe that we could do more together than in years past. I can see this in examination results that concern multiple choice questions and primarly check the material of the lectures. The average was significantly better than in years past. One score stopped short of absolute, there were no catastrophic scores with less then 50% points. This part of examination was awarding for me.

However, the first part, the "problem", appeared to be catastrophically difficult. I could not appreciate it in advance. I received very good reports from and about the problem-solving sessions. The problem was a modification of 2008 exam, and I dared to complicate it slightly in the end retaining first two points simple. Year 2008 was decisively not bright. Yet that time everybody could do the first two points. This year almost nobody could do them properly. Because of accumulation effect, it did not make much sense to go futher, although many did attempt. Obviously, my assertion of the effectiveness of problem-solving sessions and general readiness of students was faulty. I am frustrated. Since this is my fault, I did everything to minimize the negative impact of a way-too-difficult problem on actual marks.

 However, the average result is slightly below than last year. Fortunately, as mentioned, we did not have "bad" cases of exceptionally low score.




Roman Kolesov

gave a talk in our department on Jan. 25. His research mostly concerns optical and paramagnetic excitation of impurity ions in transparent crystals like ruby or diamond (these ions determine colors of precious stones). It is an active research area with a nano-twist: people are trying to make nanoparticles out of the crystals so that there is a single ion per nanoparticle, position the particles,  connect them optically using metal strips, or put them into an artificial crystal (of nanometer period) that could provide localization of the photons emitted by the ion.

Several groups are (hyper)active in the area. Roman belongs to Jelezko team of TU Dresden. Roland Hanson, our yongest faculty, stands under banner of diamond quantum physics here at TU Delft.

Precisios stones fascinate and, reportedly, could even enslave your mind. As you know, there is a small nuclear reactor at TU. There were (and are) projects to make a commercial use of this rather unique facility. One of the projects was to change the color of precious stones by exposing them to radiation: sometimes a color change can change the market value of a stone by an order of magnitude (I mean, increase this value). Somehow this project did not go: was that because the diamonds shone too much after the exposure? 


Sander Otte

gave a talk in our department on Jan. 13. He introduced for us spintronics of individual atoms. Using STM techniques, he was able to position magnetic atoms on a semi-insulating substrate. With the same STM, he can run currents through the atoms revealing their excited spin states. The most fascinating part of his talk described how to catch a magnetic atom at the STM tip and run the current through another atom on the substrate.

Sander Otte graduated from Leiden and has been promoted there. He is presently post doc in NIST Maryland. More about him/his research can be found at


School of complexity in Brussels

Thursday Jan 21 and Friday Jan 22 I have spent in Brussels, Universite Libre. There was a scientific school (!) for master students. I find the idea astonishing: if something like this happens in Delft, it usually consists of two-three lectures of a VERY popular level, a sort you can read in kindergarten without risking to tire kids. There in Brussel it was entirely different: all the lecturers invited kept presentation at scientific level. The students have been warned: the school is called "Understanding and exploiting COMPLEXITY at the nanoscale". Yet the attendance was spectacular, despite the fact that it was an examination week. I really love that French-speaking people are not afraid of looking clever.

Except me, the lectures came from statistical physics community, and their definition of "nanoscale" was rather different from others: they concern situations were the fluctuations of would-be macroscopic quantities are visible. For instance, this includes population genetics presented by Luca Peliti.  There was an interesting series of experimental lectures by Sergio Ciliberto.  I was talking about quantum transport, as usual.


There are many things happening that should be presented in this blog, I’m sorry, I can not write about those now. I am busy, helplessly and hopelessly, with drafting an ERC Advanced Research Grant proposal. Internal TU deadline is nearing.

Such writting is by no means my strong side. I hate the present activity very much. I do this in hope to get resources for what I’d like to do and what would be a majour accomplishment of my scientific career: UNIFIED THEORY OF QUANTUM TRANSPORT.

Well. The odds that the weeks spent writting would not go in vain are thin: propability of success is estimated as 15 %. So, consciously speaking, it is not a hope: it’s rather a dream…

I promise I will be back (some day) to write about current events.


Tuesday January 12 I’ve made a Blitzvisit to Aachen: not to the city proper, rather to the suburb were Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule is situated. Many years ago I had been looking for a job at RWTH and found none, so I avoided the place. Nowadays my former PhD student Marteen Wegewijs is a tenure-track prof over there. He has been repeatedly inviting me, and have promised a special treatment: lift from Roermond to short-cut a two-hour train loop. Though visit was quick, I’ve learned many interesting, unexpected things. Among them:

1. It is plausible to get an edible food in student’s cantine (knew that before, forgotten while in Delft).

2. Russian theory postdocs (Pletuyhov and Saptsov) and are tougher than they used to be. I did not manage to confuse the two about their own research though I did my best.

3. Markus Morgenstern does fantastic, exciting things by STM in both 2d gas and graphene. Unbelievable! I cannot reveal the details but he will post at arxive soon: please follow.

4. I’m still able to pull cars out of their snow graves with my bare hands only.


Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on Earth!

Glory to God born to dwell among us, one who has been suffering for us and saves us!

Finally Chirtsmas came to me too.

Dear reader, blessed Chirstmas to you!

Even in likely case you have already celebrated it and forgotten what you have eaten during the feast:) Tomorrow’s my turn.

Thanks for 64000 views!

It is my pleasure to report another doubling of number of views. The previous doubling took place 45 days ago while the blog is running for more than 4 months. I expect to report next doubling in three months.

Thank you, dear reader, for following this. I’d be pleased to receive more comments, but the views are quite motivating.

Frans Godschalk

will be a new Ph.D. student to work with me starting this year. This has been settled several weeks ago, however I could not make an announcement before I officially concluded the search (there were 57 applicants for this position).

Frans will be working on Josephson laser, perhaps with Fabian Hassler (see the post of Nov. 27). Frans graduated from Leiden and made his diploma thesis in the field of high-energy physics. He is very motivated. Still, I do not expect an easy start: too much differences in approaches.


Happy New Year to you, dear reader!
I wish you will reach all the goals you have set for 2010. I also hope that this year something unexpected but pleasant will enter your life.
My plans for 2010 include:
– confronting my 50th birthday (not ready, feel terrible)
– gambling for big research grants: ERC Advanced grant and national Nanoprogram
– long (>2 weeks)research visits to Grenoble and Aspen
– preparation Advanced Statistics course
– setting up a decent and useful personal web-site

All that above the “routine” research, education and book-writting activities.
Besides, I’m still wishing something unexpected but pleasant…

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