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The CMS was founded in 1994 to provide the cooperation between research groups in physics and chemistry at the University of Vienna and the University of Technology, Vienna. The science college CMS is supported since 1998 by the Austrian Science Funds to support the formation of doctoral students at an internationally competitive level. The main field of research of the CMS is the development and application of advanced methods for the atomistic simulation of properties and processes in materials.
The Center for Computational Material Science (CMS), an entity established jointly by the Vienna University of Technology and the University of Vienna, is an indispensable supporting pillar in the field of Material Science of the Faculty of Physics.
The opening of Eastern Europe and Austria’s entrance to the EU resulted in an expansion and restructuring of the European science landscape. The Iron Curtain, which passed just 60 km east of Vienna, had fallen and many new contacts were formed and old ones that had been on ice since the end of the Second Word War were revived. It was a special concern of the Minister of Science at the time, Erhard Busek (1991-1994), to seize these new opportunities, a focus that led to the establishment of the Central European Initiative, or CEI, is an informal collaboration between the countries of Central Europe in the areas of culture, technology, and science, with its headquarters located in Trieste. The presidency rotates annually between the member states.
It was founded in November 1989, on Austria’s initiative, by the five countries of the Pentagonale, as the four foreign Ministers of the so-called “Visegrád” group wanted to start a more extensive cooperation. The first members were Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, with Poland joining somewhat later. An on-going problem proved to be the often hesitant financing by the individual governments. The idea was to establish and network Centres of Excelence in each member country. This was the impetus behind the establishment of the Center of Computational Materials Science (CMS) by scientists at the Vienna University of Technology and the University of Vienna. Even at that time, Vienna was already one of the words’s leading centres for the development and application of ab-initio methods for calculating the electronic structures of a wide range of materials and, it follows, of their specific properties. The centre attained the status Centre of Excellence in 1993, thus officially becoming established.
As so often happens, this promising start failed in most of the countries on account of funding. In Austria, however, the financial resources were available and according to a suggestion of the Ministry of Science, a scientific entity of the same name was established on 2nd December 1993 as a host organisation, and given a basic subsidy beginning in 1994. In addition to the basic subsidy, the CMS is financed through its participation in national (FWF, FFG) and international research projects. Among the European programmes are the research networks RTN (Research and Training Networks) Computational Magnetoelectronics, TMR (Training and Mobility for Researchers) Electronic Structure Calculations of Materials Properties and Processes for Industry and Basic Sciences, the two STREP (Specific Targeted Research Project) programmes NaNO2, Oxidation of Nanoparticles and DynaSync, Dynamics of Nanostructures, as well as the Marie Curie Visiting Doctoral Fellowship, which was approved in 2002 and represents the international arm of the CMS. The CMS is also partner in the ESF (European Science Foundation) programmes Psi-k and SIMUL.
The basic idea of the CMS was – and still is – to accommodate the rapid development and constantly increasing importance of the numerical simulation of material properties and, through intense cooperation on a national and international level, to establish opportunities to continually attract new generations of young scientists, who possess the necessary broad and sound education in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and their respective implementation in simulation software. The research areas have, of course, been adapted to current developments.
Right from the beginning, the work of the CMS was evaluated by an international advisory board chaired by Volker Heine (University of Cambridge), with findings reflected in regular work reports. As a result of the successful work of the CMS, and to ensure continued funding and be freed from the discretionary spending of the Ministry, the Vienna Center for Computational Materials Science (VICMS), a virtual inter-university research centre, was established in 2011 at the initiative of the Vienna University of Technology, University of Vienna, and the CMS association. The headquarters of the research centre is located, once again, at the Vienna University of Technology, with funding being provided through the global budget of the Vienna University of Technology. In addition to the separate association, the research centre has now taken on the task of, among other things, international networking and is, for example, the Austrian representation at the Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire (CECAM) based in Lausanne.
from Spezialforschungsberichte – P. Mohn