Interviews with former Winners

Simon Schmid

Winner in the category Master, 2020

 

"Development of a New Approach of Evaluating Process Stability of the Laser-Powder Bed Fusion Process with Deep Learning"

 

What led you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

In my master’s thesis I dealt with the additive manufacturing process Laser-Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF). I had my first contact with this process during my bachelor’s thesis and was immediately enthusiastic about it. During my master's degree program, I focused on this research area. When I was looking for a topic for my master's thesis, I became aware of the Chair for Non-Destructive Testing at the Technical University of Munich. At this chair I wrote my master’s thesis in cooperation with BMW AG.

What was the topic of your master’s thesis? What fascinated and excited you about it? Why is your topic important for society?

My thesis was about the quantification of deviations in the L-PBF process. This quantification is done using so-called welding lenses, which are created by the melting and cooling process. The shape of the welding lenses is a direct process indicator and allows us to draw conclusions about the energy input and the resulting microstructure. A method was developed to automatically measure the welding lenses in micrographs over the entire sample. Before my master's thesis I had little knowledge of digital image processing and machine learning. Therefore, I learned a lot during my work. What fascinated me about this topic was the challenge of developing the new methodology and the potential that it offers. My hope is that this methodology will be used in industry and research to better understand the L-PBF process.

Simon Schmid with further insights into the research topic of his master thesis.

How did you come to know about the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate? What was your reaction when you heard that you won?

I learned about the Applied Photonics Award through the Fraunhofer IOF website. Since I considered the topic of my work to be relevant to the photonics industry, I decided to apply for the award. After all, you have nothing to lose by participating. When I heard about winning the prize, I was very happy. I am very grateful for the appreciation of my work through the award.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? What consequences did it have, especially for your further studies and your career?

The Applied Photonics Award is a great honor for me and a unique selling point in my resume. I am currently doing a doctorate at the Technical University of Munich. I feel that the award is a great motivation for my research.

 

Would you encourage others to apply for the award, and if so, why?

Absolutely. At first, I didn't know what to expect at the award ceremony, but it was a very nice evening event with great guests and lectures. I especially enjoyed being presented the award by Prof. Andreas Tünnermann. I can warmly recommend the application for the Applied Photonics Award to everyone.

Nadja Felde

Winner in the category Dissertation, 2020

 

"Design, manufacturing, and characterization of robust multifunctional surfaces"

 

What led you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

Already during my studies in materials science at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, I came to "optics" through my position as a research assistant at the Fraunhofer IOF. There, I was able to work on various exciting projects that showed that optical functional surfaces are increasingly conquering fields of application that go far beyond the narrow scope of modern photonics in physics. I enjoyed the work and the working atmosphere so much that I decided to pursue my Ph.D. at Fraunhofer IOF in cooperation with the Institute of Applied Physics.


What was the topic of your final thesis? What fascinated and excited you about it? Why is your topic important for industry?

My work dealt with the design of transparent multifunctional coatings for extreme environments. The focus was on the development of methods and processes to achieve excellent, selectively adjustable wetting properties with minimal loss of scattered light and previously unattained mechanical stability. I was particularly excited by the aspect that this allows photonic sensors to be used in unrelated application areas since it is possible to achieve optimal functional properties without impairing the classic optical parameters (reflection, transmission, absorption, and scattering). Of particular importance are surfaces with tailored wetting properties, which have a wide range of development possibilities: In the technical field, for example, self-cleaning surfaces make it possible to reduce the load of cleaning agents enormously. When used in the biological or biomedical sector, such surfaces can specifically suppress the growth of bacteria or fungi, thus effectively preventing critical and damaging interventions in these sensitive systems.


How did you come to know about the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate? What was your reaction when you heard that you won?

Since the award ceremonies of the Applied Photonics Award in recent years have always been in the context of optics conferences and trade fairs, I have already had the opportunity to watch some award ceremonies live. When the email announcement for 2020 came, I decided without further ado to give it a try, especially since my topic focused on the field of applied optics. When I heard about the win, I was of course very happy.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? What consequences did it have, especially for your further studies and your career? How did you use the prize money?

Winning the Applied Photonics Award is a very nice appreciation of all the work in the lab and at my desk. At the same time, the award underlines the relevance of my work in the field of optics and motivates me to continue pursuing the topic in my work as a research assistant at Fraunhofer IOF. I invested the prize money in an e-bike to ride every day to work with constant motivation.

 

Would you encourage others to apply for the award, and if so, why?

Young scientists researching in the field of optics should take advantage of this opportunity. In addition to the appreciation of the work associated with the prize, it is a nice opportunity to get to know other scientists, to exchange ideas and, to network.

Christian Gaida

Winner of the Jury Award for outstanding scientific work, 2020 (Dissertation)

 

"Powerscaling of ultrafast thulium-doped fiber laser systems"

 

What led you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

During the basic studies, it was mandatory to choose a specialization subject in preparation for the bachelor thesis. My choice fell on the lecture "Fundamentals of Laser Physics" by Prof. Jens Limpert. Of course, I did not realize that this choice would determine a large part of my career so far. I subsequently completed an internship and my bachelor thesis in the research group "Fiber- and Waveguide lasers". Inspired and motivated by my experiences there, I began a master's degree in photonics at the "Abbe School of Photonics" and the "College for Optics and Photonics" (CREOL) in Florida. At CREOL I already specialized in power scaling of Q-switched, thulium-doped fiber lasers. During my stay, Prof. Limpert offered me to start a Ph.D. with the topic "Power scaling of ultrafast thulium-doped fiber laser systems" in his group. An offer I accepted with great pleasure.

 

What was the topic of your master’s thesis? What fascinated and excited you about it? Why is your topic important for society?

One of the main motivations of my work was to create the basis for the generation of laser-like radiation in application-relevant wavelengths far away from the emission ranges of conventional lasers. The focus here is on the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and the THz range. As part of my work, I was able to identify the advantages of long-wavelength laser radiation for efficient frequency conversion to these ranges. At the same time, I made significant progress in the power scaling of ultrafast thulium-doped fiber lasers. Thus, I was able to provide characteristic data for these exotic wavelength ranges, which today can only be generated by extremely expensive large-scale research facilities, such as synchrotrons. In addition to these unique characteristics, the resulting potential arises from the inexpensive and uncomplicated possibility of establishing these sources for novel applications in our daily lives.

Christian Gaida presents the topic of his dissertation.

How did you come to know about the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate? What was your reaction when you heard that you won?

A colleague drew my attention to the award and inspired me to apply. I never thought that my work would be chosen, and I was very happy about the jury award.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? What consequences did it have, especially for your further studies and your career? How did you use the prize money?

It is a great honor for me to have been awarded the jury award for outstanding scientific work. As I continue to research in this field, this award increases the visibility of my current work, which makes me very happy. It may even lead to projects and application fields in the future through new contacts that would otherwise have remained hidden from me. With the prize money, I will probably buy an electric piano.

 

Would you encourage others to apply for the award, and if so, why?

Applying for the award was a way for me to look back on all the years of hard work, but especially the many happy moments and successes. In that sense, the application itself was a gift and would have been worth it even without the award. I would recommend it to everyone!

Carlos Abad Andrade

Winner of the Jury Award for high potential for utilization and application, 2020 (Dissertation)

 

"Advances and Applications of Molecular Absorption Spectrometry: from Non-Metals to Isotope Analysis"

 

What led you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

Originally, I worked on the topic of fluorine analysis. However, I quickly realized during my research that the methods and instruments I developed could be applied to other non-metals. One day I was able to detect a shift in the wavelength in the spectra. This indicated that an isotope shift was taking place. This then led me to a fundamental aspect of my work– namely, isotope analysis using optical spectroscopy.

What was the topic of your final thesis? What fascinated and excited you about it? Why is your topic important for society?

In my thesis, “Advances and Applications of Molecular Absorption Spectrometry: from Non-Metals to Isotope Analysis,” I used a fundamental physical principle (isotopic shift in in-situ generated diatomic molecules) and instrumentation and developed novel artificial intelligence evaluation methods which are necessary to determine the isotopic composition of specific samples and reference materials. Since every place in the world has its typical isotopic fingerprint, I have thus developed a method that enables origin determination.

Carlos Abad Andrade presents the research project and results of his dissertation.

I am fascinated that in my work I have developed a method for isotope determination for the first time that is as precise as the prevailing mass spectrometry but has the advantage of being faster, cheaper and more energy-efficient. What excites me is that it makes it possible to determine the point of origin of food, conflict minerals, and many other materials and products. This is how many socially relevant application areas are being opened up using optical spectroscopy and new analysis methods.

 

How did you come to know about the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate? What was your reaction when you heard that you won?

The award is very well known among scientists working in the field of photonics. My PhD supervisor and other scientists I work with brought the award to my attention. I was very motivated because I saw the potential of this prize to show the scientific community that my work is basic research but has a lot of potential applications. When I got the news that I had won, I was of course very happy, as these potential applications were apparently also acknowledged by the jury.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? What consequences did it have, especially for your further studies and your career? How did you use the prize money?

The Applied Photonics Award means to me that other scientists recognize the future potential and relevance of my work. This has given me additional encouragement for my further scientific work to continue on my path. I saved the money. Due to the pandemic, I have not yet been able to leave for my planned research stay at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in California. I will then use the prize money to support my stay there and certainly take another important step in my scientific career.

 

Would you encourage others to apply for the award, and if so, why?

It was exciting and challenging to write the application and present my work in a way that is understandable and accessible to the wider scientific community. I can recommend this process of preparing one's own work for the Applied Photonics Award to everyone, as it is fun and also opens up new perspectives on one's own work. The joy of receiving the award and of course the impressive, beautiful award ceremony were an important experience in my life as a scientist, which I also wish for many other young scientists.

Ben Sicks

Winner in the category Bachelor, 2020

 

"Entwicklung eines LED-basierten Systems zur homogenen Bestrahlung von Endotrachealtuben mit sichtbarem Licht zur Vermeidung von beatmungsassoziierten Pneumonien"

(Development of an LED-based system for homogeneous irradiation of endotracheal tubes with visible light to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia)

 

What led you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

When studying medical engineering and focusing on biotechnology, you frequently come across interesting problems through in-house research topics. One of them was the research project LED-ETT of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which is carried out by the Ulm University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the University Hospital Ulm. 


What was the topic of your final thesis? What fascinated and excited you about it? Why is your topic important for society?

The title of my final thesis is “The development of an LED endotracheal tube for irradiation with visible light to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia”. If you have ever been in the situation to observe a ventilated patient and you imagine that this vital ventilation leads to thousands of fatal pneumonias every year in Germany alone, the question of what can be done about it quickly arises. With the possibility of photodynamic therapy and the rapidly advancing LED technology, a fascinating alternative to antibiotics opened up, which has made me very enthusiastic about this topic. A successful development towards a medical product could save many patients from contracting ventilator-associated pneumonia in the future and thus save many lives.


How did you come to know about the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate? What was your reaction when you heard that you won?

My supervisor Prof. Dr. Martin Hessling brought this award to my attention. I think the combination of medical application and the optical approach is very exciting, interdisciplinary and potentially lifesaving. When I received the e-mail with the prize notification, I had to read it twice to understand that I had won a prize and then even from Fraunhofer IOF. I was all the more pleased because I didn't think that the chances of winning a basic research project in medical engineering were very high.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? What consequences did it have, especially for your further studies and your career?

First of all, there is a great deal of satisfaction when a work is recognized in this way. This has also encouraged me to continue to dedicate myself to this topic. At the moment, the work is being continued in a research project in my current master's program.

 

Would you encourage others to apply for the award, and if so, why?

I can definitely encourage others to apply for the prize. On the one hand, the work was given more publicity, which benefited the whole LED-ETT project, and on the other hand, the Applied Photonics Award is a very good argument for the quality of your own work. Furthermore, one has the possibility to experience a nice and interesting day at Fraunhofer IOF.

Silvio Fuchs

Winner in the category Dissertation, 2019

 

"Optische Kohärenztomographie mit extrem ultravioletter Strahlung"

(Optical coherence tomography with extreme ultraviolet radiation)

 

What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?
After my student research project about the calibration of a EUV spectrometer at the synchrotron in Triest, I heard about the idea of optical coherence tomography in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range from Prof. Paulus and Dr. Rödel. I found the topic and the potential applications of the technology in the semiconductor industry so exciting, that I was able to convince Mr. Paulus to tackle this direction, which differs from his previous field of research, in my diploma thesis. Due to the promising results of my diploma thesis, I was even more motivated to transfer the technology from the synchrotron to the laser laboratory, to develop the technology further and to eliminate the "teething troubles". Therefore, I dedicated my dissertation to these goals.


What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?
I have developed optical coherence tomography (OCT) in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range (EUV). OCT has been known in the visible and infrared range for three decades and is used especially by ophthalmologists for cross-sectional imaging of the retina. In doing so, the axial resolution does not depend on focusing. Instead, the coherence properties of broadband radiation are used to map the axial direction. The axial resolution is thus independent of the Abbe diffraction limit. Especially in the EUV range, this is a decisive advantage. In my work, I was able to transfer the new EUV method, called XCT, from the synchrotron to specially developed laser-based EUV radiation sources. Besides, I was able to eliminate ambiguities in image reconstruction by using a novel one-dimensional phase reconstruction algorithm. XCT achieves an axial resolution of a few nanometers and finds use in the investigation of layer systems and semiconductor structures.


How did you become aware of the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate?
A friend and former fellow student won the prize last year. That is why I came up with the idea of applying. My application-relevant topic was also a good match for the selection criteria.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? Would you recommend participation in the award?
I was very pleased about winning the prize. Anyone who has a Ph.D. or is still doing it knows what effort and stamina are needed. The award is an extraordinary appreciation of my work and performance and fills me with pride. I can warmly recommend everyone to apply for this award. The effort of submission is not great. But the recognition, the positive effects on the CV, the great evening event with guests from the photonics industry and last but not least the prize money are.


What are your plans for the future?
Based on my work, numerous new continuing projects have emerged. A team of six people was formed and I was entrusted with their coordination. As a postdoc, I will remain true to the topic until further notice.

Timo Eckstein

Winner in the category Master Thesis, 2019

 

"Measurement and simulation of ultrafast optical phase-controlled 2-coloured coherent electron interference in monolayer graphene"

 
What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

In my bachelor thesis I designed and tested an electron spectrometer for the laser accelerator experiment of the FAU Chair of Laser Physics. One option would certainly have been to continue the topic of my bachelor thesis and thus to prove the photon order of the laser acceleration concept of ponderomotor scattering in free space. However, I wanted to face new challenges and decided instead to investigate how the short period of optical light can be used to control electrons on these time scales.

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

Presented in a simple and abstract way, I explored how fast one can switch electricity and thus process information. The long-term idea is to use light not only for fast data transport as before, but also for ultra-fast data processing. In current quantum computer models, light is already being used as an information carrier, so that light represents a natural interface to the quantum mechanical variant in classical data processing. In abstract terms, this leads to the groundbreaking future concept of replacing electrons with light as a technology carrier, at least in part - in other words, replacing electronics with photonics.

 
How did you become aware of the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate?

After I received the local department award for my bachelor thesis, I asked myself whether there is a more competitive, Germany-wide call for proposals in the area of master theses. I already knew from the DPG's spring meetings that there are nationwide DPG awards in experimental and theoretical physics for dissertations; however, there is no nationwide DPG award for master's and bachelor's theses at universities. This is how I became aware of the Photonics Days Jena and the Applied Photonics Award, probably also through the Max Planck School of Photonics. It was clear to me that I had to apply in order to at least try to make a step "up" with my master thesis.


What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you?

Pure joy. My experiment of my master thesis did not work out as I had imagined it for a long time for many different reasons. In the course of time I had to rebuild it three times completely from scratch to improve it and add more components. But one evening I could finally see the desired measurement signal. Therefore, the award is also a very important symbol for me that hard work, patience and ambition pays off.


Would you recommend participation in the award?

Definitely. As I've said before, no guts, no glory. Of course, it is especially nice to win in the end and to receive the prize in a unique atmosphere with the 2018 Nobel Prize winner in physics Gérard Mourou and Zeiss CEO Michael Kaschke.


What are your plans for the future?
First of all a doctorate. Winning the Applied Photonics Award 2019 as a recognition of my previous work is certainly very helpful for the applications and a clear unique selling point.

Research is not only hard work, but also a life-task and fulfillment. Excitement is pre-programmed when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what is known and to recognizing and solving puzzles, questions, problems that no one has ever faced before. Therefore I hope to be able to continue to deal with this daily in the long term.

Patrick Taschner

Winner in the category Bachelor Thesis, 2019

 

"Schnelle Strahlablenkung mittels akustooptischer Deflektion zur Laser-Mikrobearbeitung"

(Fast beam deflection by acousto-optical deflection for laser micromachining)

 

 

What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

Chance or fate. I came to the field of research via an internship at the Laser Zentrum Hannover. It challenged me to program and build an FPGA-based delay generator in two months without any significant electronic or programming skills. Against many expectations, the development was more than successful and I was encouraged to tackle particularly demanding topics. When it was time for the bachelor thesis, I asked my department about topics that there were to work on. I chose the topic that was most challenging for me.

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

My bachelor thesis is about scanners for laser micromachining, where the highest precision and high process speed are required. The development of more powerful ultrashort pulse lasers with high pulse repetition rates requires the use of fast scanners so that the process can be scaled. However, many commercial systems are not up to the task. Therefore, a combination of an acousto-optical deflector and a galvanometer scanner, in which the best of both worlds was successfully combined, was the most appropriate solution. Particularly exciting for me was the interdisciplinary work in the field of programming, electronics, control, regulation and at the end to merge all areas to a successful process.

 

How did you become aware of the Applied Photonics Award and what motivated you to participate?

I learned about the Applied Photonics Award and the Photonics Days from my department head at that time after he had already left the Laser Zentrum Hannover, by forwarding an e-mail to my supervisor. It was very short notice to complete all necessary documents and get the professor's signature by the deadline within only 4 days. I was particularly motivated by the opportunity to present my work to a wider audience and thus give the topic greater relevance.

 

What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you? Would you recommend participation in the award?

Before the award ceremony, I did not really know what has awaited me. In hindsight, it gave me recognition and network with new people and companies. For me, it is a gigantic motivation to remain faithful to the academic path. In any case, the successful participation in the award is a milestone in my life, which I will certainly remember frequently and gladly.

I strongly recommend the price to every student. After all, you cannot lose anything when you participate. Every person who has put heart and soul into their work should seize this opportunity and see where the journey takes them.

 

What are your plans for the future?

My work is currently taking me away from the earth: in the Moonrise project, 3D printing is brought to the moon by using a laser to melt the lunar regolith. For this, I develop space-suitable boards and software. Afterwards, I will continue my results of the bachelor thesis in a perennial Eurostars project.

Germann Hergert

Winner in the category Master Thesis, 2018

 

"Ultrakurzzeit-Punktprojektions-Elektronenmikroskopie"

(Ultra-short time point projection electron microscopy.)

 


What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

I started to study physics in Oldenburg right after graduating from high school. There I already found by talking to a Ph.D. student an exciting topic in ultrafast laser physics for my bachelor thesis. This field and the work in the laboratory have inspired me so much that I have also aligned my master’s degree and the associated thesis accordingly.

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

In my master thesis, I built an electron microscope with a spatial-temporal resolution unequaled anywhere in the world. For this, I used a laser-driven, novel electron source, which was developed in our working group at the University of Oldenburg. For the work on the microscope, I had to deal with nanomaterials, ultrafast lasers, and vacuum technology - this variety of different areas made the topic exciting and varied. At the same time, I was able to contribute to expanding the possibilities in microscopy. Currently, I use the microscope for my Ph.D. as well, to learn more about charge and energy transfer processes and to improve my understanding of light-harvesting complexes or organic solar cells.

 

What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you?

The award from a Fraunhofer Institute, especially in the field of optics, is a great honor that is also reflected in my curriculum vitae. Besides, the award underlines the relevance of my topic and strengthens me, even more, to continue my research in this field. I will use the prize money soon for a longer vacation. But where the journey should go is not clear yet.

 

Would you recommend the participation in the award?

I recommend the participation in any case, since not only the award itself is a large acknowledgment, but also the evening event, at which the award is presented, was a special experience. In addition, one has the opportunity to participate in the Photonics Days and visit the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering as well as the laboratories in Jena.

Dr. Stefan Heist

Winner in the category Dissertation, 2018

 

"Hochgeschwindigkeits-3D-Formvermessung mittels aperiodischer Sinus-Muster"

(High-speed 3D shape measurement using aperiodic sinusoidal patterns.)

 


What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

During my physics studies at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, a fellow student enthusiastically told me about his part-time job as a scientific assistant at the Fraunhofer IOF. After that, I also started as a scientific assistant in the working group "3D measuring systems". First, I was allowed to help with the construction of various 3D sensors and the creation of presentation materials, before I was involved in the characterization and development of new measuring systems. Due to the exciting topic, the practical relevance and the great working atmosphere, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. at the Fraunhofer IOF in cooperation with the Institute for Applied Physics.

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

In my dissertation, I dealt with the optical high-speed 3D shape measurement. While fast optical 3D sensors are more and more part of our everyday life - just think of facial recognition in smartphones or obstacle detection systems in modern cars - some applications place even harder demands on both the measuring accuracy and the measuring speed. For example, to capture airbag deployments, crash tests, production parts on an assembly line or athletes in motion, hundreds to thousands of highly accurate 3D models must be generated per second. This is exactly what I was able to achieve during my Ph.D. by developing new methods and superstructures - and thus make a small contribution to the progress of this promising topic.

 

What does the Applied Photonics Award mean to you?

The Applied Photonics Award means a lot to me because it expresses the recognition and importance of my own work. At the same time, I see it as an incentive to keep up with this topic, which is obviously also of great interest to other scientists - especially since the principles and structures developed offer great potential for further applications and investigations. The fact that, in addition to the award, there is also a chunk of prize money is, of course, a nice side effect. With some of the money, I was able to fulfill a dream for my dad and myself: a joint trip to one of the completely sold-out shows "Springsteen on Broadway" in New York City.

 

Would you recommend the participation in the award?

I recommend everyone to take the chance and apply for the Applied Photonics Award. After all, you have nothing to lose, you can only win: participation in an evening event with tasty food and the opportunity to talk to other people from the photonics industry; the award itself with the associated recognition and the positive effects on your CV; and not to forget, of course, the handsome sum of prize money.

Dr. Martin Steglich

2nd Place in the category Dissertation, 2017

 

"Black Silicon mittels ICP-RIE und seine Anwendungen in Optik und Optoelektronik"

(Black Silicon by ICP-RIE and its Applications in Optics and Optoelectronics)

 


What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

I began my physics studies at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in 2005 and completed them without any detours in autumn 2010. My diploma thesis was about silicon solar cells. Because I found the topic so exciting, I decided after my studies not to take the direct way into the industry and instead started a Ph.D. at the Institute for Applied Physics (IAP) in Jena in the field of semiconductor sensors and microstructuring. The core topic of my Ph.D. was the production and application of a nanostructure called "Black Silicon". The IAP was and is a worldwide pioneer in this field. That was a strong motivation for me: to be at the forefront of a topic and to carry out innovative, application-relevant research. What could be more exciting?

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

My work was about a stochastic anti-reflective structure in silicon called black silicone. This structure can be produced in a comparatively simple, inexpensive process, which is very advantageous for an industrial application in high technology. Accordingly, there has always been a great deal of interest in my work, even outside the scientific community, and several interesting, application-oriented industrial projects. This has always been a good motivation for me because there is always the hope of great success: that one day Black Silicon will be used as a standard in sensors and will thus open new doors.

 

What does the Green Photonics Junior Award meant to you, especially for your further studies and your career?

I learned about the prize from the e-mail announcement and thought: Why not? I could not estimate my chances in advance. Of course, I was very happy about the prize; after all, it is very well remunerated. Soon I will be on the road with my family for a longer holiday. This can be co-financed with the prize money. And it is also nice to win such a prize away from this. In the end, this confirms that you have done a good job, which is appreciated by others. Besides, of course, it does well in the CV.

 

Would you recommend the participation in the award?

Why not? If you think you have written a good piece of work in the field of photonics, then there is no harm in trying. Since the prize is awarded with high publicity, it can certainly also earn you some reputation - and of course the prize money.

Dr. Sebastian Schmitt

2nd Place in the category Dissertation, 2016

 

"Design and Fabrication of Silicon Photonic Building Blocks for Optoelectronic Devices"

 


What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

After my physics studies in Heidelberg, I worked for some time in the photovoltaic industry, where my interest in light-matter interactions was awakened. At the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA) I gained my first experience in nanotechnology, whereupon I decided to do my Ph.D. in nanophotonics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen. I have always been interested in natural sciences, but I am also a hobbyist and creative problem solver. My work unites these interests, which is why I still enjoy doing it today.

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

In my doctoral thesis, I dealt with the measurement and numerical analysis of photonic modes in nanoscopic silicon building blocks. I did all the development steps myself - from the production of the photonic structures to the theoretical description of the modes. What I was most enthusiastic about was how modern technologies can be used to produce and measure such tiny structures, and with what precision the interaction between light and matter can be optimized even on the smallest scales. I have discovered a new, very small area of the world that has changed my view of many things, even everyday ones.

 

What does the Green Photonics Junior Award meant to you, especially for your further studies and your career?

I heard about the award ceremony via a circular mail. Since the application criteria fit very well to my subject area around photonics and photovoltaics, I applied without further ado. I was surprised to win the award, especially when I heard about the many other very good applications. For me, the award is a confirmation that I have pursued a relevant topic in an innovative and factually correct way during my Ph.D. I cannot say whether it had a direct impact on my career, but it certainly did not have a negative impact. From the prize money, I booked my girlfriend and myself a course for kitesurfing on Fuerteventura!

 

Would you recommend the participation in the award?

I would recommend the participation. The evaluation by the scientific committee allowed me to draw important conclusions about the relevance of my work.

Torsten Büchner

1st Place in the category Bachelor, Master, Diploma, 2015

 

"Charakterisierung von mit Femtosekundenlasern erzeugten Mikrostrukturen im Glasvolumen für das Lichtmanagement in Solarmodulen"

(Characterization of microstructures generated by femtosecond lasers in the glass volume for light management in solar modules)

 


What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis?

After graduating from high school, I started my dual Bachelor's degree in "Solar Technology" at Anhalt University in cooperation with the local photovoltaic industry in the german federal state Sachsen-Anhalt. As a student at the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP in Halle (Saale), I was able to gain experiences with the material glass and its properties for solar applications. The topic "glass" should accompany me since then, and it was clear to me that I would dedicate my future to this versatile material. When I was looking for my final thesis topic in my Master's degree "Renewable Energies" at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, a doctoral student almost simultaneously started his Ph.D. on volume structuring and needed experimental support. The volume structuring of solar glass is a rather new topic for which there is little preparatory work. Although the surface and volume structuring of various glass classes is scientifically well advanced, the process has never been optimized for use in photovoltaics.

 

What was the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

The aim of my master thesis was to create microstructures for light management in solar modules in the material volume of commercial solar glasses using ultrashort laser pulses. The generated microstructures have a slightly higher density compared to the base material, which allows the refraction of the light from inactive to active areas in the solar module. Since a large part of the module surface is not optically effective, active light management leads to improved illumination of the solar cell - thus increasing the producible photocurrent.

The topic covers both the functionalization by laser structuring of glass in general and its application for photovoltaics in particular. Due to the reciprocity theorem, however, the methodology is also conceivable for application in (LED-) lighting technology for energy-efficient lighting: If light can be coupled in well, it can also be decoupled well. This work has enabled me to develop thematic and personal profiling for my future career: glass, functionalization, photovoltaics, and energy technology are all topics that make up my profile.

 

What does the Green Photonics Junior Award meant to you, especially for your further studies and your career?

At the time of the announcement, I was with a cooperation partner, where I saw the posters with the call for applications. I found out about the goals, requirements, and contents of the award and quickly realized that my work covered all relevant aspects and was therefore ideally suited. So I decided to try but did not really think I had too many chances. Even more overwhelming was the positive answer. Already the second or third place would have been like gold - in the end, even taking the first place was unbelievable. I received a lot of positive feedback on the award from friends and acquaintances as well as colleagues.

The prize was very important to me. On the one hand, the award has perfectly expanded my application documents and go on doing so. Above all, however, it underlined the efficiency and potential of the topic. In addition, the award had a great advertising effect for all the institutions to which I was and still am assigned. Because of the award, I was asked to apply for further competitions and whether the technology could even be brought to market as a spin-off.

With the prize money, I was able to support my hobby and buy a new bicycle.

 

Would you recommend the participation in the award?

I can fully recommend the prize, whether in its "old" or "new" form. The works are evaluated by experts, awarded in a festive setting with high publicity and, last but not least, duly honored with certificates and trophies. The award is a beautiful and successful recognition for the many hours spent in dark laser laboratories.

Dr. Thorsten Bornwasser

3rd Place in the category Dissertation, 2012

 

"Energieeffizienzsteigerung pflanzlicher In-vitro-Kulturverfahren mit Hochleistungs-LED-Belichtungssystemen"

(Energy efficiency increase of vegetable in-vitro culture processes with high-performance LED exposure systems)

 

What induced you to your field of research and the topic of your thesis? What fascinated and inspired you about it?

I came to my current job as a test engineer in vegetable gardening and production technology through my early interest in plants and horticulture. After a few internships and training as a gardener, I went on to study horticultural sciences in Hanover, where I focused more and more on horticultural technology. Already during my master thesis in the field of plant protection, I encountered LEDs and their versatile possibilities. With my dissertation topic "Increasing energy efficiency of plant in vitro culturing techniques with high power LED exposure systems“, I took up this topic from a technical perspective. Exciting for me was the combination of plant production and the latest technology, which inspires me to this day.

 

What does the Green Photonics Junior Award meant to you, especially for your further studies and your career?

A colleague told me about the Green Photonics Award. Since I was not sure whether a horticultural science topic was placed correctly there at all, I was even more pleased when I heard about the prize. The prize left positive marks not only on my account but also on my CV.

Happy Winners

You have also dealt with a topic in your thesis that is relevant for Applied Photonics? Then apply for the Applied Photonics Award and take your chance.

All information and admission criteria can be found here.