Nothing is perfect – the quantum mechanics of defects

Scientific report on the conference
“Nothing is perfect – the quantum mechanics of defects”
Ascona, Monte Verità
April 26th – April 29th 2015

View the full conference report here.

Topic and goal of the conference

In recent years we have been observing huge progress in first principles defect science. However, due to the widespread interest in defects, new developments have been disconnected with little crosstalk between the various disciplines and communities. In our experience, defects are typically discussed at topical conferences on specific materials or material classes. It was our aim to change this state of affairs with our proposed workshop.

By pooling expertise in a single event we intended to provide a unique opportunity for assessing the current state of the field. We have brought together a representative selection of distinguished researchers in defect science. In oral presentations, the invited speakers have addressed the different aspects of the grand challenges at stake in the modelisation of defects. Ample discussion time has been reserved after each presentation to reflect on the immediate challenge and its ramifications. In addition, we have organized a round table discussion, in which general interest topics that do not fit the regular scientific talks have been discussed.

Most important results

In our opinion, the workshop has been a great success by judging on the quality of the scientific presentations, on the number of participants, and on the intensity of the informal discussions taking place during the breaks.

Quantitatively, the workshop has gathered 60 participants, which is very close the number we announced in the proposal. 30 participants have been given the opportunity to give an oral presentation (26 invited talks and 4 contributed talks). 28 posters have been presented. Participants came from distant locations to attend the conference (6 from the USA, 1 from Japan, 1 from Brasil).

We think that the initial goals of the conference have been achieved:

  • this workshop has managed to gather in a unique location researchers that usually work for different communities;
  • this workshop, which attracted numerous young researchers, has given them a direct access to the most recognized experts in our field;
  • this workshop has allowed the participants to witness the rise of new research subjects that were not  anticipated when we submitted this proposal 18 months ago, such as “defects for quantum computing”, “defects in 2-dimensional materials”, or “polarons in oxides”.


The funding from the different sponsors greatly contributed to the high level of the panel of invited speakers. Most prominently, the role of the foundation “Congressi Stefano Franscini” which is subsidized the Swiss National Science Foundation should be emphasized. According to the feedback from the many participants, we acknowledge having had a great experience at Monte Verità, both from the scientific and organizational point of view. As organizers, we appreciated much the facilities of the hotel, the shuttle bus system, the quality of the audio-visual system in the auditorium, and in general the responsiveness of the hotel staff.

We further acknowledge the other funding we obtained from other sources Europe-wide: CECAM, Psi-k, EPFL, CEA, the NCCR MARVEL.

The organizers
F. Bruneval, P. Rinke, and A. Pasquarello

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