Award for Advanced LIGO Engineering Team

Simulating eXtreme Spacetime Projekt (Source: S. Ossokine, A. Buonanno, AEI / W. Benger, Airb. Hydro Mapp.)

Simulating eXtreme Spacetime Projekt (Source: S. Ossokine, A. Buonanno, AEI / W. Benger, Airb. Hydro Mapp.)

The 90-member Advanced LIGO engineering team has been awarded the Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award 2016 by The Optical Society, OSA. Among the recipients are also six employees of the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover and of the Laser Zentrum Hannover. The Hannover engineer team has developed, built and commissioned the high-power laser systems of Advanced LIGO, which are at the heart of both instruments.

This year’s Forman Award is given to the LIGO engineering team for “overcoming a daunting list of engineering challenges” and because the “LIGO team connected optical, electrical and mechanical elements of advanced interferometry to find engineering success at the limits of human endeavor,” writes The Optical Society.

“We heartily congratulate the LIGO Engineering Team on this remarkable achievement of gravitational wave astronomy. LIGO is an absolutely monumental research effort. Technical advances wrought by Advanced LIGO’s talented team of engineers who produced the unique ‘blend of optical, mechanical, electrical and systems engineering’ made possible this stunning achievement”, says Alan Willner, 2016 President of The Optical Society.

The team will receive the award on 19 October 2016 during the OSA’s Annual Meeting in Rochester, New York, USA. Dennis Coyne and GariLynn Billingsley, California Institute of Technology, will be accepting the award for the engineering team. The award recipients in Hannover are: Maik Frede, Gerrit Kühn, Michaela Pickenpack, Oliver Puncken, Andreas Weidner, and Lutz Winkelmann.

The Advanced LIGO detectors have made the first direct detection of gravitational waves in September 2015. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Hanover and Potsdam, Germany, and from the Institute for Gravitational Physics of Leibniz University Hanover have made crucial contributions to the discovery in several key areas: development and operation of extremely sensitive detectors pushed to the limits of physics, efficient data analysis methods running on powerful computer clusters, and highly accurate waveform models to detect the signal and infer astrophysical information from it. (Source: AEI)

Links: Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award 2016 • The Optical Society (OSA), Washington, DC, USA  • Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institute, AEI), Hanover, Germany • Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), Hanover, Germany

Further Reading: The Laser That Helped Detect Gravitational Waves,, 12 February 2016 • Gravitational Waves Detected With Help From Quartz Glass,, 15 February 2016

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