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 March 2010

No proposal NWO-nano

Finally I decided not to send my nanoelectromechanical proposal for national NWO-nano granting tour. I feel guilty about this, and reckon that the decision is wrong. I have a set of nice clear ideas that wait to be explored for common good, and I would be a right person for this research. I think I would be able to write a sucsessful grant application on the topic.

The reasons I do not do this are mostly psycological. The competition has a set of scary rules seemingly requiring immediate utilization of the research in a form of Taiwan-made gadgets( while still supporting Dutch economy). If literally read, the rules forbid any theoretical research. My colleagues at the department were hesitant to endorse and/or support my ideas and did not propose any collaboration. As I wrote, I have recently had a depression wave and thus had no desire to work.

I understand little relevance of all these factors. If I only had an extra week or perhaps two to work on the proposal and gain self-confidence needed… Ok, perhaps I can use the material for the next grant round.


Hangxing Xie

has received the title of Ph.D. today. I was in the commission. His research has been in the field of electron transport at interfaces of organic materials: it is an interesting and potentially important fact that such interfaces between practically insulating materials can provide electric conduction. His research has been supervised by Alberto Morpurgo, who has been in Delft for quite some time, has made much important research here, but has left for a better position in Geneve about a year and half ago. They say he did not fit well. They did not want to promote him to a full professor. Although the story is rather old, I still feel a pity – not that much for Alberto, rather for my colleagues and Dutch society in general that has an apparent difficulty in appreciating unusual, ambitious and not-always-agreeable personalities. 

Due to this, Hangxing Xie has been working in Delft as wel in Geneve, Huub Salemink was his promotor from the Delft side. His defence performance was very tough and to the point. Beside scientific question I have addressed one of his propositions: that went about online shopping and women. I was astonished by his serious studies of the question and brisk manner of presenting every detail of this subject. 

Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem

is today’s feast. We meet Him today and glorify Him. This year my fasting was especially terrible. I was tempted and distracted, and I tempted and distracted others around me. I sinned and hardly repented. Yet it seems OK: He does not punish me and ready to meet me. This is hopeful, isn’t it? From now on, I’ll just follow Him in His glory. A part of my soul rejoyces with it, while another one recalls that the way to follow leads to Golgofa. And how would I walk with the burden of sins, bad attitudes and blinding prejustments?

That I will learn tomorrow, let me now keep the joy of today: the joy of hitting the road.

Big news in our parish: we get a new iconostasis, made of white stone by English master Aidan Hart (see it at It was reminded during the sermon that an iconstatis is not a wall separated us from God: rather, it’s an entrance leading to Him, in full correspondence with today’s feast.

Producing entanglement

Modern theoretical physics of condensed matter is sufficiently developed to compute all physical quantities of interest. Perhaps this signals that we shall proceed to the next challenge, and compute unphysical ones. 

Most interesting unphysical quantities are related to information, especially quantum aspects of it. They characterize things like entanglement of quantum states and their informational content. The "unphysical" aspect is that these quantities are not linear in density matrix, and therefore can not be regarded as common quantum observables. Non-linearity makes the computation of these quantities rather challenging from the technical point of view.

There is a flourishing community dealing with these quantities in condensed matter. I am not exactly a part of it, but these things interest me, and I’d like to be. I have decided to attend their workshop in Dresden in June.

For this workshop, I’d like to make a small exercise, so to say, to produce some entanglement  by myself. I’ve got an interesting starting idea, and elaborated on this. Naturally, I’d like to compare my findings with the results of previous research. In particular, I wanted to undrestand the correspondence with poineering results of Carlo Beenakker and Leonid Levitov. 

Well, it turned out that the gentlemen have produced entanglement of a different sort, that I failed to understand from the beginning. This is the danger to work with unphysical values: they are subjective so small differences in interpretation and taste generate great differences in final answers. So I have to learn more and understand more. The exercise took most part of the week past.





It was wonderful in Grenoble, I came to Delft full of energy and new ideas: and has been hit by a wave of depression in very first day. Depressive feelings are not alien to me, they are well-known but still dangerous enemy. I guess many in my environment are having depression from time to time, but do not discuss this and try to deny it.  When depressed, I don’t do things scheduled and/or those I have to do. Rather, I’m busy with things completely unnecessary and sometimes even damaging for me and others. The pain from not doing things I have to do or not doing them in a proper way is sharp, overwhelming and pleasant in masochistic way, and it drives me to further depression. The feeling of miserability, despair and apathy persists. I become increasingly asocial and even rude while demanding and needing more attention from people around. 

The danger of depression is easy to understand in physical terms. It arises spontaneously, like an instability, and sustains itself by a sort of negative feedback: apathy and relation damage caused by depression brings more despair and therefore more apathy and damage. If I try to compile a list of all things that would drive me to a depression, it’ll cover 80% of my working and family duties. It is especially bad to have a depression in the fasting period: yelding to despair is a sin, and the despair is a fertile soil for almost all other sins, and failure to fast does produce more and more depression. This is why the depression tries to hit us in this particular time.

Being human, I can do very little against instabilities and negative feedback loops of my tainted soul. I have to bring the topic to Him, though initially this seems both unnecessary or blasphermic. There’s an old prayer:


  • O Lord and Master of my life,
    the spirit of emptiness, despair (that is, depression), domination or idle talk
    do not let me have it.
  • But give rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, give me to Thy servant.
  • Yea, O Lord and King,
    grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother,
    for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.


Pilgrims of Brodsky

there’s a lazy sunday far from home, so I’ve found an English translation of another Brodsky’s poem. This poem I’ve first heard in the age of twenty, and given the circumstances of epouche, it was an underground song, a manifestation of forbidden culture. For Brodsky in the time of writting, the poem was most probably post-christian. Yet what’s Brodsky: he’s just a magical mirrow that shows our souls rather than faces.  For me of that age, the poem was a kind of pre-christian, that drove me think of things beyond earthy world. Here it goes:



Past arenas and temples,

past churches and taverns,

past elegant graveyards,

past thundering markets,

past the world, and past sorrow,

past Rome, and past Mecca –

scorched by the sun’s blueness,

the pilgrims are trekking.

They are hunchbacked, they hobble.

They are hungry, half-noked –

with eyes full of sunset

and hearts full of sunrise.

The wastes sing behind them,

heat-lightning flares feebly,

the stars sweep above them,

birds screech to them hoarsely:

"The world has not altered."

No. It has not altered.

It is what it has been.

It is what it will be.

Its snow-crust still dazzles,

its warmth is still doubtful.

The world will be faithless

and yet everlasting.

Perhaps men can know it

and yet it is endless.

Which means there’s no meaning

in faith in oneself, or

in God; all that’s left is

the Road and the Dreaming.

Yet earth will know sunsets.

And earth will know dawnings.

Dead soldiers will loam it,

live poets affirm it.

Well, English translation is fine but falls short of original text not able to convey some important subtleties. Anyway. 

 p.s. you have noticed "noked" The second letter must be "a". Yet this blog is hosted by an educational organization, and such words are unacceptable in this blog. Seriously: nothing is more dangerous than automated stupidity. 

Josephson LED rocks!

Friday evening, after more than a year of rather strange reviewing process, a paper of Patrik Recher, me and Leo Kouwenhoven has been finally accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters. The paper describes the basics of Josephson light generation, you can find it at .

We have always been confident that our manuscript satisfies publication criteria of Physical Review Letters and perhaps even exceeds them. Well, I believe that most submitting authors have the same opinion about their manuscript, yet a big part of manuscripts gets rejected. We have been persisting in defending our opinion, and the full text of responses on referee comments and recomendation of the divisional associated editor has exceedeed the text of manuscriprt by a factor of two.



Grenoble, Glazman, adiabaticity, superconductivity

one of the reasons to be in Grenoble is to collaborate with Leonid Glazman from Yale who is on sabbatical now. He cannot spend all time in Grenoble but was present the whole week passed. So we could concentrate on a long-standing project of us: first time we have discussed it about six years ago. In short, we attempt to prove that superconducting hybrid structures posess a finite zero-voltage resistance. The reseach requires to analyse the equations of non-eqilibrium superconductivity in the adiabatic limit and requires tedious calculations along a rather unexplored route. 



Since Thursday I’m in Grenoble. It’s my first time over here, so I thoroughly enjoy unbelieavbly scenic views the city and its neighbourhoods have to offer. I have had already a good long hike yesterday.

But for science have I come, and that they have in abundance too. There are two large scientific centers in the city where, among other things, nanoscience activities take place. Both are thoroughly fenced off any external disturbance: the heritage of cold-war era or something else. I am visiting CEA, and have to exchange my passport for a badge with ever-worst photo of mine: the price for gaining access to their latest scientific results. On Friday my curiosity has extended to CNRS. Phyisically, it’s 200 m away. Yet there are fences too high to jump over. My host directed me to an automated gate that would let me out: naturally enough, I would not be able to get back. Yet the host was too high of opinion about my general intellegence. Finally, he had to come along and personally push all necessary buttons. It is a wonderful integrating power of science that makes the scientists of both centers aware of their mutual presence: they know each other names and, reportedly, even meet in Grenoble (by the gate?) to discuss the research, not restricting personal communications to international conferences. To finish with the topic: we’ve no (visible) fences in Delft, but surprisingly much personal communication with my colleagues takes place during international conferences.

I have talked to Julia Meyer, Manuel Houzet, Xavier Waintal – energetic, talented scientists of younger generation, and to my old friend Frank Hekking. I will remain in Grenoble for ten more days.


Guests from Hokkaido

today and yesterday me and Val Zwiller have hosted two guests from Hokkaido university: prof. Asano (theorist) and prof. Suemune. They wanted to collaborate more with us and have presented their new and somehow unexpected results concerning the light emission from superconductor-semiconductor heterostructures. I know prof. Asano for a long time, yet from his long stay in Delft in 90’s, and it was my pleasure to meet prof. Suemune. I liked the visit, anytime you meet people of different culture and can have an enjoyable scientific discussion, you sharply feel wonderful invariance of science, very encouraging feeling.

© 2011 TU Delft