The Max Planck Institutes (MPI), widely lauded as the cradle of German science, announced last January its plan to establish the Center for Complex Phase Materials in Hsinchu. MPI plans to strengthen its cooperation with NTHU, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), and the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center (NSRRC). With an annual budget of around 400,000 euros (14 million Taiwan dollars) jointly provided by Germany and Taiwan, MPI plans to support young scientists, doctoral students, and post-doctoral researchers in the development of superconducting materials, nanomaterials, and magnetic materials.
During the press conference, NTHU President Hocheng Hong said that this cooperative project demonstrates that Taiwan's scientific research is amongst the best in the world. Comparing scientific research with the Olympic Games, he said that if you are competing in the tennis doubles, you certainly would like to choose a partner whose ability is on par with your own.
Founded in 1948, MPI is named after the German physicist Max Planck, famous for his work on quantum theory as well as for being amongst the first to recognize the significance of Einstein's theory of relativity. MPI employs thousands of researchers, who publish more than 15,000 papers each year in the world's leading academic journals; 18 of its researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in the fields of physics, chemistry, and medicine.
President Hocheng pointed out that MPI is like Taiwan's Academia Sinica, in that it administers numerous research institutes in many different fields. However, MPI also cooperates very closely with academia, providing it with a steady stream of talented researchers. This is a good model for the operation of national research institutes, since it encourages interdisciplinary cooperation and the training of research personnel.
Liu-hao Tjeng, Director of the MPI branch in Dresden, Germany, recently visited Taiwan to announce the establishment of the new center. During the press conference, NSRRC Director Shangjr Gwo said that 20 years ago Tjeng's research team visited NSRRC to conduct experiments using its synchrotron light source, and since then both sides have jointly published more than 90 papers in top international journals. Director Tjeng said that during his many years of cooperation with Taiwanese scientists, he has been deeply impressed by their dedication and enthusiasm, and that the establishment of this new center will certainly provide greater cooperation among scientists in Germany and Taiwan.
Also at the press conference, NSRRC Chairman Lih-Juann Chen said that the Taiwan Photon Source (TPS) opened last year in Hsinchu, and is already engaging in cooperative projects with research institutions around the world. He also stated that MPI has invested 1.5 million euros (52 million Taiwan dollars) to build a beam line experimental station at the TPS.
In 2013 and 2016 MPI signed a memorandum arranging for academic exchanges with NTHU and NCTU. Professor Ray-nien Kwo of NTHU’s Department of Physics will work with MPI to study quantum materials and advanced films.
Also at the conference, Science and Technology Minister Hung-duen Yang noted that while some 25,000 to 30,000 academic papers are published by Taiwanese researchers every year, only 3% of these are the result of international cooperation. By contrast, over half of the papers published by researchers at Harvard are the result of international cooperation. Thus he is looking forward to increased cooperation between Taiwanese researchers and their counterparts overseas, especially those in Germany, as a way of increasing both the quality and quantity of domestic research.
The MPI has recently announced plans to establish the Center for Complex Phase Materials in Hsinchu. Present at the press conference were (first row, left to right, beginning with second from left) Prof. Ray-nien Kwo of NTHU’s Department of Physics, NSRRC Director Gwo Shangjr, Director Liu-hao Tjeng of the MPI branch in Dresden, Science and Technology minister Hung-duen Yang, NSRRC Chairman Lih-Juann Chen, NTHU President Hong Hocheng, and UST Vice Chancellor Cheng-chen Chen.