17th Workshop on Dynamical Phenomena at Surfaces

Report on the WDPS-17 workshop held in Milan, Italy, from Sept. 19th to 21st, 2016.

WDPS logo

The Workshops on Dynamical Phenomena at Surfaces (WDPS) are an active biennial series of scientific workshops that deal with dynamical aspects of surface behaviour. A special characteristic of the series is the emphasis on bringing theory and experiment together in an intimate setting, a feature that was initiated by in the first meeting of the series. The present workshop combined an exceptional setting with a programme that balanced experimental and theoretical talks, as before; however, the scientific context was expanded significantly in 2016. In the first meeting of the series, in 1983, the topic focussed exclusively on surface phonons and indeed the emphasis within that topic was a single experimental technique, namely inelastic helium atom scattering. Both the experimental technique and the tools for theoretical analysis were under active development at the time and that emphasis was reflected in the title of the first workshop, SURPHON.

The Milano workshop touched on neither topic though there were contributions on more recent developments in molecular beam scattering. The overall impression was one of a greatly expanded scientific activity within a thriving community. Topics varied from understanding bio-systems and nano-friction to macro-molecules, self-assembly and the diffusion dynamics of complex systems, all from an atomistic perspective. The dramatic evolution of scientific breadth displayed in the present meeting is a reflection of the vigour that exists in the community today. Everyone looks forward to the next meeting in the series, which was advertised as to be held in Orlando, USA, in 2018.

WDPS-17 group photo

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Psi-K Quantum-ESPRESSO School on Ab-Initio Thermal Transport


Ab-initio prediction of thermal properties for condensed matter has been a blossoming field in the last few years, thank to its numerous applications mainly in thermoelectric materials and heat dissipation technologies. This methodology however does require to master a certain amount of expertise, both technical and theoretical, in order to be executed rigorously and efficiently. In this school, we wanted to provide an in-depth view of the theoretical framework, without neglecting the importance of applying the theory on some practical examples.

The school has been composed of theory sessions and hands-on tutorials suitable for anybody with graduate-level knowledge of condensed matter physics. As we planned to release all the software with an open-source license just after the end of the school, it was extremely useful for us to collect some feedback from this first batch of users.
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Hermes 2016. Multiscale modelling and science communication

Hermes 2016
Hermes 2016 – demanding workshop had drained all the seriousness from the participants and organisers.


Erich Wimmer’s key note talk kick started a summer school on multi-scale materials modelling and science communication. Erich shared an exciting story of his personal journey and work in the field of computational materials science – with experience in academia, industry and even running a company (a co-founder at Materials Design).

A human element shone throughout the talk, emphasising  the importance of collaboration and the relationships between colleagues for making the numerous advances in the field possible, and importantly making the process fun and rewarding.

Following the Q&A session informal discussions continued over the dinner in the beautiful dining halls of the Cumberland Lodge. The evening ended with an informal ice-breaking game of treasure hunt, allowing the participants to relax, explore the great Windsor Park and the lodge itself while getting to know each other. Demanding several days awaited – a series of master classes each focusing on time/length scale beyond the familiar grounds for most of the participants; a series of work shops on engaging presentations, communication through infographics and a technical session on data visualization using Mathematica leading to group projects and individual presentations. Continue reading Hermes 2016. Multiscale modelling and science communication

College on Multiscale Computational Modeling of Materials for Energy Application

From the 4th to the 15th July, over 90 scientists from 30 countries have gathered at the Abdus Salam ICTP in Trieste, Italy, to attend the College on Multiscale Computational Modeling of Materials for Energy Applications. This college had the goal to put together experts in multiscale modeling from the atomistic scale up to the macroscopic continuum. The idea is that multiscale modeling is necessary because of mutual interdependence of processes taking place at very different length and time scales. Therefore, only a multiscale approach is able to provide insight into the effect of microscopic processes on the actual device performance and stability, and to provide understanding and guidance relevant to process and device optimization, also in an industrial context.

The college consisted of theoretical lectures on the computational methods, hands-on sessions to get practically acquainted with techniques and codes, seminars on current materials challenges in the energy sector held by leading experts from academia and industry, and seminars on career development.

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13th ETSF Young Researchers’ Meeting (London)


For 13 years now ETSF has encouraged young researchers to take part in the ETSF Young Researchers’ Meeting (YRM). This event which is organised by young researchers for young researchers made its way to London for the first time, as always the high standard of talks encouraged much debate and discussion among the attendees while enjoying all that London has to offer (for a brief moment we had some sun too!!!).

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Call for Psi-k Workshop Proposals 2017

Herewith we solicit for proposals for workshops, small conferences, hands-on tutorials and summer schools in the field of electronic-structure theory and calculations to be held between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, to be partially funded by the Psi-k Network and Charity.

Submission of Proposals

– The deadline for the proposals is Friday, October 14, 2016.
– The applications should be submitted on-line using the link https://www.dropbox.com/request/Kd6oCuVTRV3whMQfMGbK
– The applications should contain the following information: proposal title, scientific summary and abstract, programme outline,  tentative budget, CV(s) of the organiser(s), a provisional list of speakers/participants, and connection to Psi-k Working Group(s).
– A template for your proposal is available here – WORD / PDF. Applications will only be accepted if submitted using this official template.
– The  applications will be reviewed, and the funding decisions will be made in December 2016 by the Psi-k Scientific Advisory Committee and the Psi-k Board.

Working Group Connections

The Psi-k Working Groups represent the core of the Psi-k activities. Each Working Group has a Coordination Committee of experienced scientists in the field, headed by the Spokesperson. The Psi-k Working Groups, their Spokespersons and the Coordination Committee members are listed on the Psi-k website (psi-k.net/groups). If you plan to organize an activity in the field of one of the Working Groups, please contact the spokesperson and/or the committee members.

Training activities and interdisciplinary workshop activities such as Industry Workshops can be exempted from this requirement, if justified in the proposal.

Collaboration with CECAM

As in past years, we encourage applications for joint CECAM/ Psi-k Workshops as well as CECAM/Psi-k Tutorials for electronic-structure methods and applications.

With best regards,

Risto Nieminen
Psi-k Chairman

Peter Dederichs
Psi-k Financial Officer

Probing Potential-Energy Surfaces (PPES IV)


The potential energy surface (PES) is a central quantity in the modelling of materials properties. Ab initio total energy methods like density-functional theory are increasingly used to probe the PES in order to determine not only the equilibrium configurations of particular systems, but also potential energy barriers for certain processes and/or attempt frequencies. The goal of the workshop was to discuss current issues and perspectives in the underlying theoretical concepts and methods, as well as corresponding applications in the fields of heterogeneous catalysis, crystal growth, or biophysics.

After successful meetings in 1994, 1999, and 2005, the workshop stayed within the interdisciplinary tradition of the PPES series and brought together scientists with different backgrounds, e.g. in condensed matter physics, materials science, computational physics, chemistry, and industry. Experts of the field of total-energy calculations, scientists who develop or enhance methods, and those who apply the information gained by these techniques had the possibility to exchange ideas and experiences.

A special focus of the PPES-IV workshop was on big-data-driven materials science, e.g. the Materials Encyclopedia and the development of Big-Data Analytics tools for materials science of the NOMAD Center of Excellence.

pic2PPES Continue reading Probing Potential-Energy Surfaces (PPES IV)

EUSpec Winter School on core-level spectroscopies – Fundamentals and applications of ab-initio methods in spectroscopy


The idea that a two-week school should be held in Slovenia first emerged during the first Whole Action Meeting (WAM 2014) of COST Action EUSpec in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. In compliance with the naming of other action meetings, the school was nicknamed as “EWinS”, standing for “EUSpec Winter School”. The preparations for the school started in spring 2015 and in autumn they became rather intense with many skype calls between the local organizers and Hubert Ebert (action chair), Didier Sébilleau (co-chair), Amélie Juhin as well as other members of the school international committee. The ideas on the table were many and the uncertainties on practical aspects were even more. Let us introduce the context. “EWinS” is the first two-week school organized within the framework of EUSpec. “Being the first” is already a source of concerns. “Being the first” in a small town of 6600 inhabitants in the middle of west Slovenia becomes an epic quest. Fortunately, with the help of volunteers, long and difficult budget plans, creative accommodation and transportation plans, on Monday the 1st of February all trainees were attending the first lecture given by Maria N. Piancastelli. After the coffee break Lucia Reining explained the basis of electronic excitations under a theoretical point of view.


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Walter Kohn

We are sad to report the recent passing of Walter Kohn, who died  Tuesday 19 April in Santa Barbara, California.

The following is his obituary from the New York Times


Walter Kohn, an Austrian-born American scientist and former refugee who shared a Nobel Prize in Chemistry — a subject that he had last formally studied in high school — died on last Tuesday in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 93.

The cause was cancer of the jaw, his wife, Mara Vishniac Kohn, said.

As a teenager, Dr. Kohn had escaped to England from Nazi-occupied Vienna less than a month before World War II erupted, found himself shipped to Canada as an “enemy alien” and later built a long, distinguished academic career in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1957.

He was awarded the chemistry prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1998. At the time, he was teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He shared the award with John A. Pople, a British-born mathematician at Northwestern University.

Dr. Kohn was credited with a discovery that applied quantum mechanics and advanced mathematics to explain complex chemical reactions.

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Ab initio (from electronic structure) calculation of complex processes in materials