Published on 10.06.2022

Prof. Monney and the Swiss Physical Society Annual Meeting (27-30 June 2022)

Claude Monney has been Associate Professor at the Physics Department of the University of Fribourg, and Group Leader of the Ultrafast Spectroscopy group within said Department, since 2018. After holding positions at the Paul Scherrer Institute (Villigen), the Fritz-Haber-Institute (Berlin), or the Physics Institute of the University of Zürich, he has come to Fribourg with characteristic dynamism, which has led him to be directly involved in the local organisation of the 2022 Swiss Physical Society Annual Meeting coordinated by Stefan Albietz, alongside Dr Baptiste Hildebrand, Lecturer, Olivier Huot, technical assistant, and Nadia Pury, Administrative Officer, all three at the UniFR Physics Department.

This conference, which will take place between the 27th and the 30th of June 2022 in Fribourg, is very exciting in that it regroups an important number of Swiss and international physicists whose expertise lies in a wide array of different fields that do not usually interact much with each other. This allows in particular for Swiss physicists to interact as a real community, helping them to find surprising synergies between the disciplines of physics, and enabling them to establish at times immensely fruitful cross-fertilisation of their work. 

This annual meeting is no small affair: it shall involve more than 200 papers, 30 odd posters, a public lecture by Prof. Thomas Stocker (Bern) on climate crisis, a satellite event on “Women in Physics Career Symposium” (1st July), and a good number of thematic threads, or “mini-conferences within the conference” which will structure the many parallel sessions. Three of these threads are notably organised by researchers at the University of Fribourg: “Biologically inspired assembly of ordered and disordered optical materials” in collaboration with the NCCR Bio-Inspired Materials, “Nonequilibrium properties of quantum materials” and “New prospects in ARPES for quantum materials”.

Prof. Monney's own interest in such ultrafast spectroscopy techniques as ARPES (angle resolved photoelectron spectroscopy) and RIXS (resonant inelastic x-ray scattering) is reflected in the focus of these last parallel sessions. Monney and his group use these techniques to advance fundamental research by probing the electronic structure of novel lab-made materials through successive and ultrashort light pulses that “excite” matter. In so doing, one can analyse the electronic structure of matter and its transient evolution over an infinitesimally-short time period, less than a picosecond (10-12 of a second). The main goal of these types of experiments is twofold: to better understand how electronic properties such as a material being an electric conductor or insulator translate into the microscopic organisation of electrons and atoms, with a view to harness this knowledge to design new materials with interesting properties. Secondly, Professor Monney's group looks to excite matter to new out-of-equilibrium states and to control its sometimes-unusual behaviour and properties in this new configuration. While all of these concepts are very arcane for a layman, what one may draw out of this is that this type of research aims to widen our understanding of the sometimes-exotic phenomena and behaviours of materials when they are pushed beyond equilibrium - in other words outside of their comfort zone - an understanding that could then be built upon to improve the field of electronics as a whole, and the electronics we use on a daily basis.

Professor Monney's academic career, and his ability to gain all the requisite research experience to receive tenure as an associate professor at the University of Fribourg, was in great part made possible through his clever use of third-party funding, be it at the University level, or on a national and even international scale. Indeed, he was awarded several career grants by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF: Ambizione, 2014-2017; Eccellenza from 2018), was the recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt research fellowship (2012-2014), and very recently successfully applied for funds to develop his laboratory through an SNSF R'Equip grant, as well as being able to hire a scientist for this project through the University of Fribourg's pool de recherche. 

The Research Promotion Service team is there to advise you on what type of third-party funding fits your research goals, whether it be career or project funding, as is the new UniFR database regrouping the main funding schemes. 

Group website

SPS Annual Meeting Website and registration

Here are a couple of publications related to Professor Monney and his group's recent research: 

G. Kremer, M. Rumo, C. Yue, A. Pulkkinen, C. W. Nicholson, T. Jaouen, F. O. von Rohr, P. Werner, and C. Monney, “Ultrafast Dynamics of the Surface Photovoltage in Potassium-doped Black Phosphorus”, Physical Review B 104.3 (2021).

C. Nicholson, M. Rumo, A. Pulkkinen, G. Kremer, B. Salzmann, M-L. Mottas, B. Hildebrand, T. Jaouen, T. Kim, S. Mukherjee, K. Ma, M. Muntwiler, F. O. von Rohr, C. Cacho, and Claude Monney, “Uniaxial strain-induced phase transition in the 2D topological semimetal IrTe2”, Communications Materials 2 (2021).