The European Dimension

The study of electron interactions with molecular targets is a field of research in which Europe is currently at the forefront. This is supported by a review of publications in major international journals and the number of European researchers invited to give presentations at relevant international conferences. All the above processes are currently being studied, both theoretically and experimentally, by European groups who will participate in the proposed programme. Indeed these European groups have developed many of the new experimental techniques and theoretical codes that are driving forward the international programme and therefore are well placed to exploit the scientific and latterly commercial benefits of this research.

However to date there have been few opportunities to co-ordinate such research within the Europe. Activities under the EU Framework V programme have had more limited objectives , in part due to the restriction of the number of partners (8) allowed under these Networking activities. Similarly the research objectives of Framework VI are concentrated upon narrower areas of more applied research and there are fewer opportunities for co-ordination of research that requires study of more fundamental investigation prior to the commercial application. This is in notable contrast to comparable research programmes in both the USA and Japan which are co-ordinated by their National funding agencies. For example in the USA the Department of Energy (DOE) recently organised major reviews of such research and thus ensured that a more structured interdisciplinary research programme can be developed. Similarly in Japan research into processes related to technology have been co-ordinated for nearly ten years by a joint academic/industry forum (ASSET). In this ESF Programme we therefore propose to bring together the leading European groups in this field to develop a coordinated international research programme that will provide a breadth and depth of research that will consolidate European strengths in this area. The programme will:

  • Allow transfer of staff between European research groups to allow transfer of knowledge and techniques
  • Train new and younger researchers in the techniques and applications of electron interactions with molecules in all phases of matter
  • Further European research integration through hosting of workshops and conferences to develop and execute co-ordinated research plans
  • Bring together applied and fundamental research communities to investigate applications of fundamental studies and develop commercial/industrial spin-offs of such research and
  • Communicate outcomes of such research to global audiences and form links with other international partners e.g. the US and Japanese research communities.

Such a programme will lead to a major advances in our understanding of how to manipulate molecular processes using electrons. It will no longer then be fanciful to speculate that, within a decade, we will be able to accurately model a whole range of electron driven processes and understand their intricate dynamics and evolution allowing the dream of engineering at the single molecule level to be successfully developed across a range of fundamental and applied sciences.