The biennial conference of the Condensed Matter Division [CMD] convened from 4-9 September 2016 in the historic northern Dutch city of Groningen. The city’s modern Martiniplaza conference centre was a grand location for what turned out to be the most successful of meetings. Over 700 participants from all European countries attended what was unanimously judged to have been an exciting, attractive, and balanced programme of plenary, semi-plenary, and invited talks, and a total of 28 colloquia, spanning all areas of condensed matter physics, from quantum physics to protein nanoshells. The collegial and productive ambiance was enhanced by the warm summer weather, which encouraged participants to continue discussions in the many cafés in the historic city centre.
Among the meetings highlights were the plenary and semi-plenary talks, many of which were directly or indirectly focussed on the energy problem. Jean-Marie Tarascon (Collège de France) talked about metal-ion batteries, Daniel Bonn (Amsterdam) on the physics of friction – which represents 30% of the world’s energy loss! – while Shuji Nakamura (Santa Barbara) outlined the unprecedented advantages of blue LED’s and the blue laser, both in terms of luminosity and cost-effectiveness. Elisa Molinari (Modena) reflected on the exciton lifetimes and their impact on the effectiveness of novel materials for photovoltaics. On the last two days, Nicola Spalding showed how multiferroic materials may serve as model systems for open problems in particle physics and cosmology, while George Sawatsky, for whom this was a homecoming of sorts, exposed the many intricate aspects of charge transfer in materials containing mixed-valency ions.
Wednesday September 7th saw the attribution of the Europhysics prize, as well as the prize lectures. We were fortunate enough to welcome, in Groningen, all 5 laureates of the 2016 prize, Peter Böni, Alexei Bogdanov, Christian Pfleiderer, Achim Rosch, and Ashvin Viswanath. Peter, Ashvin, and Achim gave a wonderful combined lecture on the experimental and theoretical circumstances surrounding, and leading to the discovery of Skyrmion phases in magnetic systems, as well as on the road that may be travelled next in this topic, be it on a fundamental or applicative level.
CMD26 also celebrated the 30th anniversary of EPL, the EPS’ premier physics journal. Sir John Enderby introduced remarkable presentations by Daniel Bonn, Fernando Luis, and Tanja Schilling who all presented original problems to which condensed matter has unexpected solutions. This most enjoyable session was followed by the EPL celebration reception, attended by all delegates.
The Condensed Matter Division of the EPS is now focussing on the organisation of the next CMD conference, which will take place in March 2018 in Berlin.