The discovery of the ruby laser by Theodore Maiman in Malibu, CA on 16 May 1960, triggered extensive work around the world to make lasers. In the former Czechoslovakia, the first laser was successfully designed, built and operated at the Institute of Physics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague. Karel Pátek (5. 5. 1927 – 25. 11. 1967), a distinguished research scientist working in the Department of Luminescence of the Institute, registered 1.06-mm laser action in an optically-pumped Nd:glass rod on 9 April 1963. Pátek’s group studied a variety of different Nd3+ doped glasses using a number of experimental and theoretical techniques and, together with Jaroslav Pantoflíček at the Charles University in Prague, obtained valuable results in this area.
For more details you may contact: P. Köppl [kopplfzu [dot] cz; press release] and L. Juha [juhafzu [dot] cz; technical details]
He started out as a participant of the Young Physicists Tournament but he gradually transitioned from being a participant to being a juror and, momentarily, contributes to the event as one of its organisers. He would like to teach the young talents that research does not start by substituting into a formula and does not end by resolving a research problem. A great deal of success lies in the ability to formulate a research problem, and, above all, to present the results of the research to experts as well as the public. This applies equally to the Young Physicist Tournament which, together with his scientific activities at the Institute of Physics, belongs to his affairs of the heart.
“In our series of courses entitled Trip to Real Research Work in Physics (VYDRA), we are preparing various lectures for students on topics such as data processing, graph creation; we explore advanced mathematical systems, and as part of a practical seminar for university students, we encourage participants to independently work with measuring devices. The students have the opportunity to realize, for example, how much time and energy is needed to prepare and make a presentation. They cannot expect to be able to prepare a presentation poster in ten minutes,“ Němec explained.
The VYDRA courses are conceived to motivate students to actively look for solutions and procedures and not to allow them just to substitute variables into a formula. Last year at the Institute of Physics, the students worked at the Laboratory of Terahertz Spectroscopy while also exploring the methods of infrared spectroscopy. “Our research facilities are highly specialized and students are only allowed to work under supervision, so in the coming years we will make more use of apparatuses for university seminars, “ Němec said, revealing some of the plans. Students are asked to present their data measurement results on posters they design on their own to an audience consisting of the other participants of the Tournament as well as of secondary school teachers from the Christian Doppler Grammar School, who attended the event this year for the first time.
Hynek Němec has targeted secondary schools also in another, similar activity. Together with the Institute of Physics, he is a co-applicant for Erasmus+ DIBALI (Development of Inquiry Based Learning via IYPT), a programme aimed at helping secondary school teachers formulate and develop research-oriented curriculum in physics. In this effort, teachers find inspiration in tasks in physics originating from the national level of the Young Physics Tournament.
“In a typical classroom, there are about four students with deeper interest in physics but the teacher needs to consider the majority of the students to be able to adapt the lesson,” Němec said, adding that: “We need to select talented students and give them enough space for further development, which is something that the teachers are aware of, and the best of the them send their students to internships, competitions and other activities.”
We were holding the first meeting of teams and jurors with the competitors from the previous years just as the participants proceeded to work on the seventeen tasks. “We were finding out how to improve the work of the teams and how to best support both the participants and their teachers. Apart from that, we stepped in once the teams have clearly understood what the tasks of the Tournament are about, to try giving them a feedback,” Němec explained. Most tasks are designed to encourage students‘ creativity - for example when they are asked to create a device of minimum dimensions to be used to prevent an egg from breaking when it falls down from two metres above the ground. “They are expected to engage all available means to resolve the task, from the design and the assembly of a measuring device to theoretical description of the observed phenomena or computer simulation, he adds.
The preliminary meeting prior to the actual regional level of the Tournament was attended by 30 students from six competing teams, accompanied by their physics teachers. At the moment, their observations and proposals are scrutinized by organisers working to improve the competition system to better simulate a realistic research practice. The competition is unique as students are asked to present their own solution and to discuss solutions by their competitors, whereby not only the quality of the solution but also of its presentation and the discussion are put in the spotlight.
The winner of the competition bringing together more than 12 secondary schools represents the Czech Republic in an international competition. In 2018, the Czech team succeeded in winning a silver medal in the competition of 32 international teams.
The Trip to Real Research Work in Physics (VYDRA) project is under the auspices of the Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists, with assistance provided by the Institute of Physics, Faculty of Nuclear and Physical Sciences of the Czech Technical University as well as the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University, and is co-funded as part of the State Programme to Support Activities for Children and Youth for the NNO via The Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists.
The Young Physicists Tournament reflects the latest trends in education. It gives students the opportunity to learn how to apply research methods in a team of co-workers - from formulating a hypothesis to its application and presentation, and the opportunity to encounter methods of research-oriented education on the part of their teachers. The organisation committee of the Tournament brings together representatives of the academy as well as of universities involved in physical sciences throughout the country.
By: Petra Köppl
Date: 30th March 2020
A team of Czech scientists demonstrated for the first time a controlled transfer of electron within one molecule. The work published in the journal Nature Communications brings important knowledge not only about one of the key processes in physics, chemistry, and biology but also provides inspiration for the construction of quantum computers based on molecular cellular automata or super-capacitors for storing energy in individual molecules.
“We managed to carry out a controlled electron transfer within one isolated molecule and at the same time measure the amount of energy released into the environment during this process. These measurements, supported by the theoretical model, provide a detailed understanding of quantum mechanical processes such as charge transfer and energy conversion at the atomic level, ”explains Pavel Jelínek from the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
To carry out this study, scientists designed a molecule that contains two iron atoms chemically bonded in ferrocene units. These so-called redox centers with defined distances then serve as reservoirs between which the transfer of electron (i.e. unit charge) takes place. The molecules were placed on an insulating surface of salt and measurements were performed under ultra-high vacuum conditions. For controlled electron transfer between ferrocene units and charge positioning, scientists used an atomic force microscope. At the same time, it made it possible to detect energy that was irreversibly released into the environment during electron transfer.
Subsequent theoretical analysis has shown that the repeated electron transfer induced by the oscillating probe of an atomic force microscope takes the system out of thermal equilibrium, causing a weak temperature dependence of the electron transfer rate between ferrocene units.
An important prerequisite for the successful advancement of quantum technologies is a detailed knowledge of the basic processes on which they are based, i.e. charge transfer and the associated energy conversion at the atomic level. Electron transport in molecules also plays an important role in many biological and chemical processes, such as photosynthesis, corrosion, and many enzymatic reactions. Despite the crucial importance of these processes and the efforts made to understand them, our current possibilities for studying and managing charge transfer at the level of individual atoms or molecules are still very limited.
The work of a multidisciplinary team of Czech scientists from the Institute of Physics of AS CR, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry AS CR, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University and Regional Center of Advanced Technologies and Materials of Palacký University in Olomouc represents a significant step forward molecules and the associated energy conversion.By: FZU Date: 19. 3. 2020
ATTENTION Due to the current hygienic and epidemiologic situation pertaining to the occurrence of the new type of coronavirus and due to active medical prevention, with consent of the administration of the CAS, the building of the Academy of Sciences at Národní 1009/3 is closed both for professional and general public, including the premises of the Library of the CAS, Science and Art gallery, and Gastronomic Services Národní, with effect from 4 March 2020 until further notice.
At the same time, all events for public, lectures, and conferences are cancelled.
Attendees of business meetings and work courses shall report at the reception where they will be informed about the rules regarding the entry into the building.
JUDr. Jiří Malý, deputy director of the Centre of Administration and Operations of the CAS
03. 03. 2020
Cosmic acceleration and Dark energy might not exist. The dispute of professor Subir Sarkar about the significance of the supernovae evidence presented by the 2011 Nobel Prize teams continues. One of the hot topics at the workshop Multimessengers@Prague, where we met.
This unique workshop of Central European Institute for Cosmology and Fundamental Physics brought experts from disjoint but complementary fields and provided them with the possibility of informal discussion. Scientists from institutes in 10 European countries, invited to Prague through the FZU project CoGraDS, spent four days probing the latest developments in synergies between various cosmological observations, and exchanged ideas with colleagues from the local community active in Universe sciences. The CoGraDS project combines four theoretical investigations in gravity, cosmology and string theory with hardcore experimentalist enterprise: the goal of one of its five work packages is to build a lab for testing photosensors for the Large Synoptic Space Telescope.
'This unique workshop of Central European Institute for Cosmology and Fundamental Physics brought experts from disjoint but complementary fields and provided them with the possibility of informal discussion.'
'I think, theorists must have contact with experimentalists because otherwise they keep inventing all kinds of things without any connection to the real world. Correspondingly, the experimentalists should talk with theorists so that they get some appreciation of what sort of ideas are interesting’ Subir Sarkar says.
'Effectively without data we just have speculation, with data, we can make progress in understanding. Everything should be in balance between dreaming and achieving. Who doesn't like dreaming, but by itself it is little bit sterile.' That’s why the international science community is working on developing new detectors. Currently, both gravitational waves and neutrinos are not seen enough as the detectors are too small. The progress might come with a new arm of LIGO constructed in India, the Japanese detector HyperK, or the Einstein Telescope or KM3NeT. Instead of something interesting happening once a year, it will happen every month.
Sarkar works on high energy cosmic rays, neutrinos and gamma-rays and participates in the experiments IceCube Neutrino Observatory and the Cherenkov Telescope Array and was a member for many years of the Pierre Auger Observatory for cosmic rays. 'Ideally, scientist should be involved in every experiment, but that is not feasible. Every country has some limit on what they can get involved in, but it would be good if more Czechs were also involved in optical astronomy, for example in a big project called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.' It is being built in Chile and was promoted by particle physicists and will involve big data. That is the reason why it is partly funded by Google and attracts young people with computing background.
But as he stated: 'the physicists vote with their feet, you can't force them to do anything. They will do what interests them within the constraints of resources and funding, etc.' That's why he advises bureaucrats, government officials and ministers not to tell physicists what they should do as it is pointless, because if they will not do it with their heart, then nothing will come out of it. 'It's like you can't force an artist to paint portraits if he want to do landscapes.'
Sarkar is head of the Particle Theory Group at the University of Oxford. 'Everyone has their own mind and if there are 10 people they have 11 opinions. On the other hand, if you can get a consensus, then you feel it's solid. Although it can be really frustrating at times, it is rewarding. It's not like being a celebrity and having thousands of followers on Twitter – if you can convince even 10 intelligent people, with your argument, you feel that it has been worthwhile making that effort.'
The Central European Institute for Cosmology and Fundamental Physics (CEICO) is an international research group focused on the interplay between cosmology, gravity and string theory based in the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Subir Sakar is head of the Particle Theory Group at the University of Oxford. After dispute about the significance of the supernovae evidence of the 2011 Nobel Prize teams, professor Subir Sakar published a second paper in Astronomy and Astrophysics in November 2019. He participates in the experiments IceCube Neutrino Observatory and the forthcom-ing Cherenkov Telescope Array.