Hugor Geiger Prize Honors Three Young Researchers

Johannes Müller (Fh.-IPMS), Stefan Hengesbach (Fh.-ILT) and Christian Ippen (Fh.-IAP; left to right) are the winners of the Hugo Geiger Prizes 2015. (Source: Fh.-Gesellschaft)

Johannes Müller (Fh.-IPMS), Stefan Henges­bach (Fh.-ILT) and Christian Ippen (Fh.-IAP; left to right) are the winners of the Hugo Geiger Prizes 2015. (Source: FhG)

At the Munich Science Days, the Fraunhofer-Gesell­schaft, along with the Free State of Bavaria, was hono­ring three young scientists with the Hugo Geiger Prize on 16 November. Commended are theses on energy-efficient semi­conductors, powerful diode lasers and new substances for sharper displays.

This year, the 15th Munich Science Days are being held under the motto “Cities of the Future”. In the Alte Kongresshalle, the Fraun­hofer-Gesell­schaft put on a science evening within this framework. After being welcomed by Alexander Kurz, the Fraunhofer Board for Personnel and Legal Affairs, and Franz Josef Pschierer, State Secretary of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infra­structure, Transport and Tech­no­logy, experts discussed how we will live in the city of tomorrow. At the end, three doctoral candidate received the Hugo Geiger Prize for their outstanding, application-oriented doctoral theses. The prizes are awarded annually and endowed with 5000 euros for the first, 3000 euros for second and 2000 euros for the third prize. The submissions are reviewed by a jury of representatives from research and development and the economy.

1st Prize for Energy-Efficient Semiconductor Storage

With the proliferation of complex mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, the demand for high-performance and energy-efficient semiconductor storage increases. Existing materials and tech­no­lo­gies, however, are hardly able to keep pace with developments. Silicon-doped hafnium dioxide has ex­cellent ferroelectric properties and is, therefore, ideally suited for semiconductor storage. Johannes Müller from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden has made decisive contri­bution to the study and understanding of this substance in his doctoral thesis. He has provi­ded evi­dence that ferroelectricity may also occur in binary oxides – a phenomenon that has long been pre­dicted theo­re­tically. The researcher has thus succeeded in identifying a totally new class of materials – haf­nium-based ferro­electrics – with more than 60 publications in scientific journals and at conferences inter­natio­nally. Thanks to this, very energy-efficient, ultra-small and CMOS-compatible storage technologies have been placed within reach, ones which were previously not possible in this form. Even piezoelectric actuators implemented in a chip or energy harvesters are thus conceivable.

2nd Prize for Diode Lasers with Higher Radiance Density

Diode lasers are cost-effective, industry-standard beam sources and have the greatest efficiency of all laser beam sources. Compared to traditional solid-state lasers, however, they have significantly smaller power, radiance and brilliance, which have previously limited their field of application decisively. Within the scope of his doctoral thesis,  Stefan Hengesbach of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen has developed a method that can significantly increase power and radiance of diode lasers. The new fin­dings from his work are based on improved frequency stability and a new dense wavelength-division multi­plexing process. The economic benefits go far beyond saving electrical energy: the type of beam source opens up a path for the industry toward flexible production without maintenance and tooling times. Because of their high efficiency, compact design and the large number of available wavelengths, these beam sources can open up many new areas of application.

3rd Prize for New Substances for Brilliant Displays

Quantum dots are semiconductor-based nanoparticles with specific properties. Among others, they im­prove the brilliance and efficiency of displays. The cadmium compounds used to date, however, create prob­lems both for health and the environment. In his thesis, Christian Ippen describes how he has syn­the­sized cadmium-free quantum dots at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Pots­dam. These dots are based on indium phosphide and zinc selenide. He also looked at how they can be used in organic light emitting diodes OLEDs. The new compounds showed excellent properties: with them, the entire spectral range of visible light could be covered with excellent color saturation. The economic rele­vance of the studies become clear thanks to a project commercializing quantum dot materials for dis­plays and many other application, currently running two years. With the help of exhibits, the prize winners will vividly explain their excellent research work to interested visitors this evening.

During the Science Days from November 14 to 17, Fraunhofer researchers were also represented by three exhibits on the city of the future at a booth in the Alte Kongresshalle. Among these is a model of the city of tomorrow from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, eco-insulation made out of typha (cattails) and an innovative ventilation system for façade insulation from the Fraunhofer Institute for Buil­ding Physics IBP. (Source: Fh.-ILT)

Links: Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic MicrosystemsDiode Lasers (M. Traub & H.-D. Hoffmann), Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILTFunctional Polymer Systems (A. Wedel), Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP

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