Theory group gets new head with the New Year


His office is still packed with boxes full of books and files. “I am waiting for a new storage cabinet”, says the brand-new head of the Theory group, Patrick Bruno. He first arrived at the ESRF just before Christmas and is smoothly settling in. In fact, the white board in his office is already scribbled with formulas that show he is already putting his shoulder to the wheel.

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Patrick Bruno joins the ESRF after having been Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Microstructure Physics in Halle (Germany) since 1998, where, when time allowed him, he also carried out his research on magnetism in solid state systems. This 43 year-old French theoretician acknowledges that “after ten years in this position I reached a stage where two factors coincided: I wanted to dedicate more time to research and at the same time was considering going back to my country”, he explains. The job as group leader of the ESRF fitted well with his aims.

Today, Bruno has the challenge of building up the theory group at the ESRF, both in terms of staff and fields of study. He anticipates that magnetism, dynamics in nanostructures and condensed matter physics will be three important research lines. He also stresses the importance of identifying the interests of users and beamline scientists.

In addition to building the theory group, Patrick Bruno intends to invite scientists from around the globe  to visit the ESRF for periods of between several weeks and several months. These would include internationally renowned experts in a field, as well as brilliant younger post-doctoral theoreticians. They would be brought into an environment where they can exchange ideas and collaborate on specific topical research themes. This would allow interaction with world-class theoretical researchers, coupled with the possibility of tackling hot topics with the experimental ESRF community.

Young, creative, and successful

In 2007 Bruno received the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG), the largest award in German research. The DFG described him as “one of the most creative and successful theoretical physicists of the younger generation”.

He has been invited as a visiting scientist to the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), the University of California in Santa Barbara (US) and Nagoya University (Japan). His career began as a researcher at the CNRS, in the “Institut d'Électronique Fondamentale'' in Orsay, where he worked on interlayer exchange coupling, a phenomenon involved in the “giant magnetoresistance” for which Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg were awarded the 2007 Physics Nobel Prize. He has published more than 200 articles, review papers and book contributions, 14 of them exceeding 100 citations.

For more information about the Head of the Theory group, see his CV.

Top image: Patrick Bruno, new Head of the Theory Group at the ESRF.