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ZEISS Research Award Honors Renowned Researchers from Quantum Technology

publication date: Jul 26, 2016
author/source: Zeiss

The winners of the ZEISS Research Award 2016

Award presentation at the ZEISS Symposium 'Optics in the Digital World'

  • Professor Fedor Jelezko and Professor Jörg Wrachtrup receive the ZEISS Research Award
  • Work on optically addressable spins in diamond honored
  • ZEISS promotes science and research in the field of optics

Within the framework of the ZEISS Symposium 'Optics in the Digital World,' Professor Fedor Jelezko (University of Ulm) and Professor Jörg Wrachtrup (University of Stuttgart) received the ZEISS Research Award 2016. This prestigious award is given to outstanding scientists who perform research in the field of optics and photonics and promote innovations. The two award winners have been honored for their high-caliber work on quantum technology with optically addressable spins in diamond. 

Professor Jürgen Mlynek, former President of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and Chairman of the Jury for the ZEISS Research Award, provided details on the research successes of the two award winner in his laudatory speech. The main focus was on diamonds in whose lattice Jelezko and Wrachtrup deliberately integrated foreign atoms. The diamond very effectively shields these from disturbing ambient influences. This makes it possible to observe their quantum states, for which extremely complex apparatus is normally required, even under normal conditions. 

These quantum states can be used e.g to process information extremely quickly or – in quantum cryptography – to transfer information that cannot be intercepted. Most recently, the researchers have also succeeded in verifying that diamonds can be used to build sensors that will enable new, pioneering applications, e.g. in medical technology for tumor diagnostics or as a navigation aid for self-driving cars. 

"The ZEISS Research Award 2016 is included for the first time as a part of our Symposium 'Optics in the Digital World'," explained the ZEISS President and CEO, Professor Michael Kaschke, to around 200 guests. "Participants from around the world have discussed the state of Optics 4.0 and the future need for action in strategically important research fields and have identified the further digitization of optics. This is precisely the right setting to present the ZEISS Research Award and to honor the outstanding work in optics and photonics that has made a decisive contribution to this development." 

The international guests in Oberkochen also engaged with other new subjects from the areas of communications, sensors, illumination and medical technology. "Optics enable digitization and in turn digitization is revolutionizing optics and fundamentally changing our world," said Kaschke in closing. Yesterday ZEISS also honored three excellent up-and-coming researchers with the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers – Dr. Robert Brückner, Institute for Applied Photo Physics (IAPP), Technical University of Dresden, Germany; Dr. Georg Heinze, The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), Barcelona, Spain; and Dr. Robert Keil, Institute for Experimental Physics, University of Innsbruck, Austria. 

Keynote on the first direct evidence of gravitational waves

As the guest of honor, Robert L. Byer, Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University, spoke at the award ceremony for the ZEISS Research Award. Byer has conducted research and taught classes in lasers and nonlinear optics. His current research focuses on solid state laser sources with applications to gravitational wave detection and to laser particle acceleration. Byer and his team have made substantial contributions to proving Einstein’s theory of gravitation waves. The gravitational waves were detected on 14 September 2015 by the twin detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). 

The ZEISS Research Award

The ZEISS Research Award will be presented every two years and was allocated prize money totaling 40,000 euros for the first time in 2016. The work of the selected candidates has great potential for future insights, practical applications and is important for their future scientific careers. Members of the high-profile jury in 2016 were: Professor Jürgen Mlynek, former President of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and Chairman of the Jury; Professor Stefan Hell, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, winner of Carl Zeiss Research Award in 2002 and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014; Anne L’Huillier, Professor of Atomic Physics at Lund University, Sweden, winner of the Carl Zeiss Research Award in 2013; Dr. Ulrich Simon, Head of Corporate Research & Technology at ZEISS; and Professor Andreas Tünnermann, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, Germany.

Initiated and funded by Carl Zeiss AG, the ZEISS Research Award is the successor to the Carl Zeiss Research Award that honored outstanding achievements in optical research from 1990 onward. 20 winners received the prize in a total of 13 award ceremonies. Many winners of Carl Zeiss Research Award went on to obtain further awards and distinctions, four of them received the Nobel Prize. 

  • Professor Ahmed H. Zewail, winner in 1992: Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1999
  • Professor Eric A. Cornell, winner in 1996: Nobel Prize for Physics in 2001
  • Professor Shuji Nakamura, winner in 2000: Nobel Prize for Physics in 2014
  • Professor Stefan Hell,winner in 2002: Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014

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