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Scottish universities gain Max Planck Society’s approval

The universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and St Andrews are to form the UK arm of the first International Max Planck Partnership, Research Fortnight Today has learned.

According Jim Hough, chief executive of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, the network to which the three universities belong, the collaboration will involve five German Max Planck institutions and is set to start in 2013.

“We’ve passed the main hurdle of getting approval from the Max Planck Society”, he said. “We’ve got business understandings between the German and Scottish universities, and are now hoping to leverage extra funding from the research and funding councils.”

Hough explains that while only three of the eight SUPA universities were involved in the initial negotiations, he expects the collaboration to widen over the coming years.

According to Hough, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have expressed an initial interest in funding some of the work. The group is now in the process of providing them with further details of the project. It has also approached the Scottish Funding Council.

The partnership will focus on optical and mechanical measurements and observation at the quantum level.

The Max Planck Institutions involved are those on the science of light (near Nuremburg), quantum optics (near Munich), gravitational physics (the Albert Einstein institutes in Potsdam and Hannover), chemical physics of solids (Dresden) and solid state research (Stuttgart).