How stays abroad can motivate pursuit of science

At the beginning of great achievements, scientific innovations or simply an outstanding career, there is often a simple dream. But what happens when your homeland does not offer the best opportunities to fulfill this dream? This is what happened to Dr. Yurii Kutovyi. His dream was to shape the information technology of the future through physics. In his home country Ukraine, the conditions for fulfilling his goals are not the best, and so the young scientist decided with a heavy heart to leave his motherland to pursue his research abroad. His path led him to Jülich, to the Forschungszentru.

Even at a young age, many girls and boys have very specific career aspirations: “I want to be a doctor,” “I want to repair cars when I grow up,” or “I want to be a kindergarten teacher”. Yurii Kutovyi, too, had wishes and goals for his life from an early age, but quite modestly he simply wished for having a good life. He didn’t know during his early school years that physics would one day bring him closer to his dream: „I didn’t have a dream to become a physicist, policeman, politician, or whoever. I was just convinced that I need to study hard to get a nice job. That was my main motivation and inspiration,” he says looking back. Physics eventually opened up the world of science and many career prospects for the sympathetic young man. After graduating from school, Yurii Kutovyi therefore decided to study for a bachelor’s degree at the Faculty of Radiophysics, followed by a master’s degree at the Institute of High Technology at the tradition-steeped Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv. Above all, the modern departments and the numerous international collaborations as well as participations in a number of European projects at the Institute of High Technology pointed the young scientist in the right direction. “It is incredibly exciting to be involved in developing “something” that could even revolutionize the whole quantum information science,” he reports about his choice of study.

During a short research stay as part of the TEMPUS project at the Technical University of Lodz in Poland, Kutovyi had the opportunity to use a clean room for the first time. Stays abroad not only open up opportunities to get to know other countries and people, but also new career prospects. For example, Yurii was immediately fascinated by the nanoworld and its many research opportunities. „It was really interesting for me to see what does a cleanroom facility means and what amazing ‘smaller than small’ things you can fabricate there. I think that short internship at Lodz university motivated me to continue studying physics. It was a nice experience, and basically I realized then that nanotechnology is exactly what I want to research,” he says, summing up his experience in Poland.

Dr. Yurii Kutovyi at his workplace at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Here he researches the nanoworld. Picture: © Private

Experience abroad as a career springboard
In Ukraine, research opportunities in the field of nanotechnologies are few and far between, and there is often a lack of adequate equipment. Therefore, in order to make his dream of exploring the nanoworld a reality, Yurii Kutovyi looked for opportunities to study for a master’s degree abroad. “A good friend of mine, who had just started his PhD at Forschungszentrum Jülich, told me that there was a vacancy in his group for a master’s project on silicon nanowire field-effect transistors (FET) as biosensors for detecting target biomarkers,” Yurii recounts. And now, all the hard work and lots of studying during school and college paid off, because after his successful application, Jülich became his second home. “I was very excited to start the master’s project in Jülich,” the young scientist recalls “and I was so happy when I finished making my first working nanodevices.”

Yurii Kutovyi felt right at home in Jülich. “I like the place and the environment where I now live and work. Although Jülich is quite a small city in Germany, I feel comfortable here. Maybe it’s because Jülich has some similarities with the city where I was born and grew up,” he reports. The proximity of two airports also contributes to his sense of well-being, as he can visit his Ukrainian homeland in just three hours by plane.
Professionally, it is above all the dynamic international environment and the good equipment of the scientific workplaces that appeal to the physicist. He was particularly impressed by the intensive and interdisciplinary work in the Helmholtz Nano Facility (HNF) cleanroom center at Forschungszentrum Jülich. In addition, science and research are also valued and supported by the German government, which makes the researchers’ work much easier. “Science is important,” emphasizes Yurii “I would therefore like to see more support and funding for science in my home country as well. Germany is a good example in this respect.” In addition, the collaboration with other scientists in Jülich is also a very positive experience for Yurii, for example the joint research with his mentor Prof. Svetlana Vitusevich, she supervises the Department of Electronic Sensing at the Institute of Biological Information Processing (Bioelectronics). With the support of Prof. Vitusevich, Yurii applied for a DAAD-funded PhD scholarship after completing his master’s degree.

In the Helmholtz Nano Facility (HNF) cleanroom center at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Dr. Yurii Kutovyi has the best conditions to create and explore his nanostructures. Picture: © Private

Setting the right course for the future
Yurii Kutovyi now holds a doctorate. He was also able to write his doctoral thesis at Forschungszentrum Jülich thanks to the scholarship and is now working as a PostDoc at the Peter Grünberg Institute, Semiconductor Nanoelectronics, as part of the Cluster of Excellence “Matter and Light for Quantum Computing – ML4Q”. The excellent organization of the cluster facilitates the research work between the participating institutions. With the University of Cologne, RWTH Aachen University, the University of Bonn and Forschungszentrum Jülich, several excellent institutions are part of the cluster. “As a member of ML4Q, you feel welcome and can focus on your work, regardless of whether you are a professor, a postdoc or a student,” Yurii summarizes his experience. The young scientist is therefore dedicated to his field of research in order to contribute to the success of the cluster.

Currently, Yurii Kutovyi is working on the development of quantum bits and single-photon emitters based on isolated impurity states in high-quality epitaxial nanostructures. The central goal is to achieve and establish an efficient spin-photon interface by establishing and interconnecting independent quantum nodes composed of spin qubits through the exchange of entangled flying qubits (photons). “Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?” he says with a smile, adding, “I’m also curious about the results that should be coming soon.” With his hard and outstanding work, the physicist hopes not only to revolutionize quantum technology, but also to build a scientific future for himself in Germany.

Why not get to know Dr. Yurii Kutovyi a little closer! In an entertaining video on the website of the Cluster of Excellence ML4Q, the young physicist introduces himself personally:

Further information:
Institute of Biological Information Processing, Bioelectronics (IBI-3):
Peter Grünberg Institute, Semiconductor Nanoelectronics (PGI-9):

About Sabine Clemens

Sabine Clemens ist Pressereferentin für den Fachbereich Nationale und Internationale Beziehungen in der Unternehmensentwicklung. Daher schreibt sie in diesem Blog über die verschiedensten Themen der Internationalität. --- Sabine Clemens is press officer for National and International Relations in the department of Corporate Development. She therefore writes about a wide variety of topics relating to internationality in this blog.

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