Within two days Dipjyoti Deb got to know Dresden. Afterwards, it was an easy decision, that the German city is the right place for his thought experiments.
The question seems to appear out of the blue: „Whom from the history of physics would you invite to a dinner party?” But the young man – asking the question, while sitting contentedly on a comfortable couch of a pub-like café – does not stop there. “What would you cook? How formal would it have to be?” Such thought experiments fascinate Dipjyoti Deb. The young physicist from Kolkata likes to spend his free time discussing such scenarios with his friends at a small bar called England, England, which is located at the border of the district Äußere Neustadt in Dresden. “I believe experiments like these help the brain to come up with creative ideas,” Deb reasons.
It is this enthusiasm for finding new solutions to established procedures that convinced the 28-year-old to pursue a PhD: “In my opinion the scientific process should be less about gathering one title after another, but contributing new knowledge, new ways of thinking about a problem.” But in his three years, which he has spent in Dresden so far, Deb has noticed quite often a strange behavior among young Germans. “There seems to be a huge status anxiety. At every party the first question is always ‘What do you do’. And the course of the further discussion – if there’s one at all – depends on your answer.”
The miniaturization crusade
That’s the moment, when the HZDR scientist likes to baffle his conversational partner with a thought experiment. Or a seemingly strange response. “I usually like to reply that I sleep most of the time – which is true for most human beings.” Nevertheless, in his many astute hours Dipjyoti Deb deals with a well-known problem of microelectronics: “In the last 60 years the size of transistors reduced from few centimeters to few nanometers. Smarter, faster, cheaper: these are the factors that motivated the miniaturization. Now, however, we reach a bottle neck. After 2020 it will be almost impossible to go smaller due to physical complexities.”
Therefore, he and his colleagues at the Helmholtz research school NanoNet, which is coordinated by the HZDR, try to find innovative ways to build the transistors. Instead of following the one-way street of physical miniaturization, they adopt the alternative approach: assembling the complex structures from molecules and atoms. “We want to establish new methods, which have been so far outside of the mainstream thought experiments of this research area,” Deb describes. For instance, in his dissertation the PhD candidate tries to develop a new kind of information transport based on quantum wires.
It was this perspective of working in a new research field that drew him to Dresden. “I first came here for the interview at NanoNet,” Deb remembers. “The entire process left a very good impression and I felt immediately connected to the city. Afterwards it was an easy decision.” Which the city seemed to help making even easier. When he was missing his last place of residence, London, at the beginning of his PhD, Deb found the bar England, England – a small version of Great Britain right in Saxony. Since then it has been the Indian’s favorite location for discussing research and his thought experiments.