Dr. Viktoriia Rutckaia

Dr. Viktoriia Rutckaia started her PhD at the Centre for Innovation Competence SiLi-nano® in August 2012. She is a member of the junior research group „Silicon to Light“ and winner of the 2018 Marie Curie Prize.

This year you were awarded the Marie Curie Prize. What is the significance of the prize for you and your research?
For me, Marie Curie Prize is, first of all, a sign of appreciation. I spent several years doing my PhD under the supervision of my professor and with the help from my colleagues and friends. With them, I was trying to understand laws of physics, learning how to build and operate scientific equipment, acquiring skills in fabrication techniques, numerical modelling and data processing. And what is the most important and the most precious among all: I mastered scientific thinking.
After defending my thesis, I felt it was time to prove myself. I wanted to create something new that would contribute to science. This project is the product of my skills and commitment. It was awarded the prize, and for me it means that the scientific community appreciated not only my hard work but also all the people who contributed to my education, spend time and effort on me.
The second important thing is the opportunity that the Prize has given me: I can run my research in a group I chose. I used to play a computer game where, on the way to the goal, a player obtains some credit points and chooses how to distribute them among several skills like knowledge, defence, strength, to make the character as balanced and powerful as possible. Now it is all for real. I have a goal, three years and a budget. These are my credit points that I should wisely spend. I can’t wait to start my quest and fill these three years with exciting research and training activities.

Since August 2012 you have been working at the SiLi-nano Centre for Innovation Competence. What are the advantages of working at this facility and at the Halle location for you?
Well, back then, in 2012, I started my PhD with the thought that this is a small and insignificant period of my life. I guessed that after the first excitement of a new place and new topic, in a year or so, the work would turn into a routine. I was so wrong.
Halle is not as large as my home city, Saint-Petersburg. It doesn’t offer so much cultural and entertainment activities as I was used to. But it turned out that Halle has the perfect amount of activities to make my life balanced. In Saint-Petersburg, I must fight with distractions to concentrate on things I want to do. A lot of time and energy are spent. In the high tempo of the cultural city, I always feel that I am missing something.
In Halle it is different. People are focused on themselves. Me too. Everything is closely located, I live 5 minutes away from my office, it is 15 minutes to the city centre by bicycle. I can fill my day with a full day in the lab, a singing class, one hour of sport exercises. After that, I still feel fresh and rested to clean the house and meet my friends. My mind is not scattered in Halle.
Surprisingly, for such a small city, Halle has a very rich campus. It's not only one university, but there are also many research and industry organisations. Max-Plank Institute for Microstructure Physics, Interdisciplinary Center for Material Science, Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials, and Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics, and many other institutions create an excellent basis for communications and interdisciplinary collaborations. As a member of Sili-nano Centre, I have access to many facilities at the campus. If I have a question I seek an answer for or I need any advice or specific measurements, there is always someone around who is an expert in the field and can help me.

You are a research associate in the "Silicon to Light" project group. What fascinates you about this research focus? / What goals do you associate with your research?
In the “Silicon to Light” project, I am working on silicon-based near-infrared light sources. This is a very interesting project that appeals to me as it has a lot of fundamental physics as well as the determined foreseen application. Current data processing in telecommunications faces fundamental speed limitations of electrical interconnects. Silicon photonics can solve these problems, but to make the transition to the new technology, efficient optical microchip components should be first fabricated. These include optical modulators, waveguides, detectors, light sources. There are many types of research going on these components. I am happy to participate in the development of light sources. What makes it especially exciting is the feeling in the air that the studies and ideas that I read in articles and hear on conferences will soon appear in every house or at least in big data centres like Google or IBM.
Another interesting point for me is the interdisciplinarity of the project. It combines optics with materials science and is topped with engineering. I am collaborating with experts in molecular beam epitaxy, lithography, spectroscopy, numerical analysis, nanophotonics to name few. All of them show me different sides of physics. For example, I can talk to an expert in near-infrared spectroscopy and then meet someone working on visible-light spectroscopy and be surprised how different used approaches and faced challenges in these two fields are. It is like different cultures that see the world in their unique way. I feel that this project allows me to travel, learn and connect different cultures of physics.


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