Winner in the Category Master Thesis, 2019
»Measurement and simulation of ultrafast optical phase-controlled 2-coloured coherent electron interference in monolayer graphene«
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.
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?
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.