When Alina Maria Deac was younger, she wanted to study international relations. She became a physicist instead. As leader of a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group at HZDR she’s now virtually working in both fields.
English, French, German, Japanese and, of course, Romanian – Alina Maria Deac can converse in many different tongues, despite thinking, that “language classes were the most boring part of school.” However, her knack for it came in handy when she left her Romanian home town Cluj for Grenoble in France in the year 2000 – and when she moved to Japan five years later, and again when she started to work in the United States three years later, and again when she came to Jülich two years later, and yet again when she left Germany for Switzerland. “Most people with a resume like mine are in their forties,” the young researcher claims jokingly while sitting in the deli restaurant Perfetto, located at the Dresden shopping street Prager Straße.
However, these numerous transitions, which were always supported by grants and stipends, for example by the European Physical Society or the Marie Curie program, seem to have prepared Alina Deac for her latest change. Since 2011 she lives in the East German city, where she leads a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group. “On my team there are Indians, Poles, Irish and Turks,” Deac recounts. In her opinion, it isn’t difficult to manage such a heterogeneous group, because “I only hire people who fit into the team. Our field of research is rather small, the topics are pretty close to each other. So they need to be able to communicate with each other.” In a certain sense this topic of enhanced communication is also reflected in Deac’s research.
Towards new information technologies
“We demand an increasingly greater deal of our communication devices. They shall send and receive huge amounts of data. Thus, especially when a lot of people use their devices at the same time, the information system breaks down.” Deac and her team, therefore, investigate an innovative method to store and transport information: spin-polarized currents. “Electrons are more than just charged particles. Due to an angular momentum – the spin – they revolve around their own axis. This turns them into extremely small magnets.” As this spin can be aligned in two directions only, it becomes possible to use it as binary information carrier. Alina Deac tries to manipulate its magnetic orientation on the nano-scale level.
“If this works mobile communication devices could be further miniaturized, while the data transmission could be increased simultaneously,” the group leader describes. It seems that in this way the young physicist contributes to the field of research, which she actually wanted to choose: international relations. On a smaller level the area still attracts her. “I like to be surrounded by people and watch them interact. Places like Perfetto or Schillergarten close to the river Elbe are perfect locations to do this. They also seem to inspire me, as I write most of my proposals there.” And if someone wants to talk to her, Alina Maria Deac certainly finds the right language.