The field of semiconductor nanowires offers rich fundamental physics and a high application potential for new technologies, but is presently still in its infancy. While fabricating self-organised nanowires is relatively easy, it is a formidable task to analyse, understand, control and manipulate those objects on the nanoscale. Advanced research on semiconductor nanowires requires a high level of expertise in modern solid-state physics and in nanotechnology. Therefore, a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training of young researchers is an important step to ensure the competitiveness of Europe in this future-oriented scientific and technological area.

The proposed training scheme takes advantage of the profound expertise and the broad spectrum of methods and materials available in the network, to improve the career perspectives of early-stage researchers (ESR) in academia as well as in the private sector. At the same time, effective collaborative research in the network is fostered since the training programme integrates well with the research activities and takes into account the host capacities of the individual nodes along with geographical aspects. The cultivation of complementary skills in the training programme rounds off the profiles of the early-stage researchers in the network, preparing them also for leadership and management engagements in the private sector.

It is the explicit goal of the network for all early stage researchers to submit a thesis for a European PhD degree (according to the criteria proposed by the Confederation of EU Rectors' Conference) after 36 months of intensive training and research. A proportion of 14% of experienced researchers (ER) will complement the network-wide training organisation and contribute to the establishment of highest training standards.

Research and technology training

Initial training by the local experts. This is the first and basic module in the scientific training programme. After hiring, the young researcher receives a detailed introduction into the methods and techniques used in the host institution. Senior scientists and experienced staff members transfer their knowledge 'on the job' and in private discussions.

Complementary training units within the network (secondments). Every early stage researcher is strongly encouraged to participate in complementary personal training within the network. During extended visits of a partner institutions within the network, the young researcher can gain an insight into a contiguous field of research by observing day-to-day business, by hands-on practice and by discussions with local experts. The topic may be chosen according to the trainees own preference and does not have to be directly related to their task in the network. Of primary relevance will be those secondments at the primacies of the industrial partners, both full and associated, as will provide an approach to research from the coorporative viewpoint. However, in order to fulfil the criteria for a European Doctorate, a total research period of three months has to be spent in another European Country. The complementary training and scientific exchange visits of the early stage researchers will be supervised and monitored by the Academic Supervisor.

Taught courses within the network (electronic courses). Besides the advanced topical lectures of each host institution, a programme of courses focusing exclusively on semiconductor nanowire science and technology will be offered to young researchers. The course material – slides and in some cases possibly podcasts– will be made available to all the partners on the project intranet. A dedicated server will be the platform for file sharing and streamlined communication within the network, independent of the existing IT-infrastructure of the different nodes.

Advanced laboratory courses within the network. All network teams will organise practical courses on their expertise open to a few (5 maximum) young researchers of other nodes. These courses will last for 2 or 3 days and will offer the unique opportunity of learning in-situ and in greater depth the practicalities of relevant techniques and methods. Associated partners will also contribute to this kind of practical courses.

Topical expert training by Senior Visiting Researchers. Two outstanding senior researchers in the field of semiconductor nanowires (thermoelectric applications as an example) from outside Europe will be invited to participate in the project for a short time at one or two different partner institutions. They will be asked to assist in the development of the research project and to chaperone the early stage researchers at the host institution and possibly at other nodes as well via video conferences.

Summer school and conferences. A summer school with recognised speakers from inside and outside of Europe will be organised by the ITN. The aim of this school, which will be open to internal and external participants, is to intensify and broaden physical background knowledge on various aspects of nanowire related physics and characterisation methods. Additionally, the early stage researchers will actively participate in international conferences in order to disseminate their results and to discuss newest ideas and most up-to-date developments in the area of semiconductor nanowires with external scientists.

Workshops and project meetings. Workshops and project meetings will be organised on a regular basis to guarantee an effective transfer of knowledge between the project members, to help develop new ideas and to coordinate the work in the ITN. While the project meetings will be focused on administrative issues and project management, the workshops are intended to stimulate scientific discussions between all project members. In general, early stage and experienced researchers working in the consortium will participate actively in the two events, either by presenting their results as oral talks or by attending and acting in the management meetings.

Research Management. Specific seminars on research management will be organised within the network with the help of the industrial partners. Young researchers will be trained in planning and coordinating research activities and also in formulating research proposals, both in national and European programmes.

Complementary skills

Mentor programme. Every early stage researcher chooses a mentor from another institution or company in the network to set up a personal career development plan. While the advisor in the host institution is responsible for the in-house scientific training and the research activities of the early stage researcher, the mentor supervises the development and the deployment of scientific and complementary skills. Furthermore, the mentor is a reference person for the early stage researcher in all questions related to his vocational career and might also help the early stage researcher to establish ties with scientific institutions and companies outside the network.

Communication and project management. A high level of communication skills and modern communication technology are the basis for a fruitful collaboration in a multi-national, multi-site network. Within the scope of the scientific exchange in the network, the early stage researchers will be involved in this communication process from the beginning on. Furthermore, the trainees are supposed to develop project management skills by taking responsibility for a sub-task in a work package closely related to their scientific task – under the supervision of the work package leader. Additionally, a project management workshop will be organised in cooperation with a global management consulting firm.

Presentation skills. Good presentation skills are of great importance in academia and in the private sector. The early stage researchers will have numerous opportunities to present their work, thereby gaining experience and routine. Apart from the scientific content, these presentations will be assessed in terms of structure, clarity, layout and language. An open and frank feedback will help the trainees substantially to improve their presentation skills.