News › Fraun­ho­fer IOF · Applied Pho­to­nics Award 2022: These are the winners

Bio­ana­ly­tics, mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tion, wea­ther rese­arch – this year, the win­ners of the »Applied Pho­to­nics Award« have once again demons­tra­ted how broad the fields of appli­ca­tion of pho­to­nics rese­arch are. The young rese­ar­cher award of the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute for Applied Optics and Pre­cis­ion Engi­nee­ring IOF was pre­sen­ted to the five award win­ners of 2022 on Octo­ber 5 as part of the »Pho­to­nics Days Jena«.

To pro­mote young optics and pho­to­nics enthu­si­asts and to fur­ther inno­va­tive rese­arch poten­ti­als – these are equally the goals of the »Pho­to­nics Days Jena« as well as the »Applied Pho­to­nics Award«. Tra­di­tio­nally, the Fraun­ho­fer IOF Young Sci­en­tist Award is pre­sen­ted during the inter­na­tio­nal career and net­wor­king event. That’s how it was this year, too: Dr. Robert Kam­mel, head of the Stra­tegy, Orga­niza­tion, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion depart­ment at Fraun­ho­fer IOF, tog­e­ther with Prof. Dr. Michelé Heurs, gra­vi­ta­tio­nal wave rese­ar­cher and this year’s key­note spea­ker at the »Pho­to­nics Days Jena«, pre­sen­ted the Fraun­ho­fer IOF young rese­ar­cher award to this year’s win­ners today.

A jury of experts, con­sis­ting of repre­sen­ta­ti­ves from sci­ence and indus­try, had pre­viously sel­ec­ted the award-win­ning the­ses. A total of three the­ses were awarded in the cate­go­ries Bache­lor, Master/Diploma and Dis­ser­ta­tion. In addi­tion, the jury awarded two spe­cial pri­zes for sci­en­ti­fic excel­lence this year: One spe­cial prize was each awarded for a the­sis in the cate­go­ries »Gra­duate« (BA/MA) and »Post-Gra­duate« (Diss). The win­ners of the 2022 Award are:

Best Bache­lor The­sis (1.000 €)

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Mag­da­lena Hil­bert (Uni­ver­sity of Jena): »Gas Sens­ing with 2D Mate­ri­als on Expo­sed-Core Fibers«

Gases and orga­nic vapors can be quickly detec­ted and deter­mi­ned thanks to sen­sors. For this to suc­ceed, the highly sen­si­tive sen­sor tech­no­logy often has to ana­lyze seve­ral para­me­ters simul­ta­neously: For exam­ple, con­cen­tra­tion (espe­ci­ally for pol­lut­ants), rela­tive humi­dity, but also tem­pe­ra­ture and pres­sure. For sen­sors to be able to do all this, they need a sen­sor mate­rial that reacts par­ti­cu­larly sen­si­tively to its envi­ron­ment and relia­bly pas­ses on recor­ded infor­ma­tion to the eva­lua­ting hard­ware or software.

In her bache­lor the­sis, Mag­da­lena Hil­bert inves­ti­ga­ted how such sen­sor tech­no­logy can be rea­li­zed with a 2D mate­rial coa­ted fiber. The 2D mate­rial on the expo­sed fiber core has direct cont­act simul­ta­neously with the gui­ded modes and also with the envi­ron­ment. The rese­arch car­ried out by Mag­da­lena Hil­bert is thus rele­vant in areas such as emis­sion con­trol, safety or atmo­sphe­ric obser­va­tion, for exam­ple in wea­ther balloons.

Best Mas­ter The­sis (2,000 €)

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Felix Wechs­ler (Uni­ver­sity of Jena): »Kalei­do­mic­ro­scope – A Kalei­do­sco­pic Mul­ti­view Microscope«

Micro­scopy is an essen­tial tool in bio­me­di­cal ana­ly­sis. Howe­ver, espe­ci­ally for living bio­lo­gi­cal samples, light micro­scopy with a high frame rate still poses some pro­blems. In his mas­ter the­sis, Felix Wechs­ler has the­r­e­fore deve­lo­ped a new type of »light field micro­scope«: the kalei­do­mic­ro­scope. Here, Wechs­ler places a kalei­do­scope – i.e. a mir­ror box – in front of a wide-field micro­scope. Felix Wechs­ler thus pres­ents a simple and at the same time prac­ti­cal method for gene­ra­ting 3D images with high reso­lu­tion using clas­sic micro­sco­pes and addi­tio­nal mir­rors on the objec­tive plus image processing.

A major advan­tage of this method is that the kalei­do­mic­ro­scope can be atta­ched to any stan­dard wide-field micro­scope. The approach descri­bed by Felix Wechs­ler can the­r­e­fore be incor­po­ra­ted par­ti­cu­larly cost-effec­tively into many exis­ting systems.

Best Dis­ser­ta­tion (3,000 €)

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Dr. René Kirr­bach (Tech­ni­sche Uni­ver­si­tät Dres­den): »Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons on linear opti­cal wire­less frontends and appli­ca­tion-spe­ci­fic free­form len­ses for opti­cal wire­less communications«

Over the last decade, LiFi has deve­lo­ped into a high-per­for­mance tech­no­logy in the field of opti­cal wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons (OWC). Here, visi­ble and invi­si­ble light is used for data trans­mis­sion. While the elec­tro­nics of the trans­cei­vers are the focus of num­e­rous publi­ca­ti­ons, the poten­tial of modern free-form len­ses has remained vir­tually untapped.

Dr. René Kirrbach’s dis­ser­ta­tion picks up at this point. He has deve­lo­ped a fully func­tional trans­cei­ver that reflects the cur­rent poten­tial of modern OWC. Using this trans­cei­ver, he was able to demons­trate how the OWC bene­fits from addi­tio­nal con­trols in terms of range, effi­ci­ency and data rate. With his work, René Kirr­bach is thus con­tri­bu­ting to the deve­lo­p­ment of new types of wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works, which are neces­sary to con­ti­nue to ensure relia­ble data trans­fer even in times of expo­nen­ti­ally gro­wing data traffic.

Prize of the Jury for Sci­en­ti­fic Excel­lence, Gra­duate (1,500 €)

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Jan-Wilke Henke (Georg-August-Uni­ver­si­tät Göt­tin­gen): »Demons­tra­tion of the inter­ac­tion bet­ween free elec­trons and fiber-inte­gra­ted pho­to­nic resonators«

Elec­tron micro­scopy encom­pas­ses a variety of expe­ri­men­tal tech­ni­ques that enable the study of com­plex mate­ri­als, nanos­truc­tures, and bio­lo­gi­cal samples using elec­trons at the hig­hest spa­tial reso­lu­tion. In the recent past, the gene­ra­tion and pat­ter­ning of tail­o­red elec­tron beams using opti­cal fields has incre­asingly come into focus. Howe­ver, pre­vious approa­ches based on inela­s­tic elec­tron-light scat­te­ring require the use of intense pul­sed lasers due to the weak inter­ac­tion bet­ween light and free elec­trons. They were the­r­e­fore not sui­ta­ble for modu­la­ting con­ti­nuous elec­tron beams in con­ven­tio­nal devices.

In the con­text of his mas­ter the­sis, Jan-Wilke Henke was able to over­come these limi­ta­ti­ons by intro­du­cing chip-based pho­to­nic struc­tures as a plat­form for effi­ci­ent elec­tron-light inter­ac­tion in trans­mis­sion elec­tron micro­sco­pes (TEM). His work opens up poten­tial appli­ca­ti­ons ran­ging from fun­da­men­tal elec­tron-light inter­ac­tion rese­arch, cha­rac­te­riza­tion of pho­to­nic struc­tures using elec­trons, and imple­men­ta­tion of new elec­tron beam spec­tro­scopy methods to mani­pu­la­tion of elec­tron beams in com­mer­cial TEMs. Jan-Wilke Henke’s work thus pro­vi­des the basis for com­bi­ning inte­gra­ted pho­to­nics and elec­tron micro­scopy, ther­eby estab­li­shing a new class of hybrid quan­tum tech­no­logy based on pho­tons and sin­gle free electrons.

Prize of the Jury for Sci­en­ti­fic Excel­lence, Post-Gra­duate (1,500 €)

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Dr. Daniel Wer­de­hau­sen (Uni­ver­sity of Jena): »Nano­com­po­si­tes as Next-Gene­ra­tion Opti­cal Mate­ri­als: Fun­da­men­tal Pro­per­ties and Potential«

In his dis­ser­ta­tion, Dr. Daniel Wer­de­hau­sen inves­ti­ga­tes the fun­da­men­tal pro­per­ties of opti­cal nano­ma­te­ri­als, in par­ti­cu­lar nano­com­po­si­tes, and their use for the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of real opti­cal sys­tems. His work thus fol­lows 20 years of very inten­sive rese­arch acti­vity on opti­cal meta­ma­te­ri­als world­wide. Howe­ver, this inten­sive and long-las­ting rese­arch acti­vity has not yet found its way into real opti­cal sys­tems, alt­hough from an appli­ca­tion point of view there is a high demand for inno­va­tions for the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of such systems.

It is pre­cis­ely this gap bet­ween deca­des of unu­sed rese­arch and the need for inno­va­tion in real-world appli­ca­ti­ons that Daniel Wer­de­hau­sen addres­ses. He views nano­ma­te­ri­als as meta­ma­te­ri­als and first pro­vi­des a detailed fun­da­men­tal inves­ti­ga­tion of why they have not yet been pro­perly used to replace clas­si­cal optics mate­ri­als. Buil­ding on this ana­ly­sis, he shows that novel opti­cal mate­ri­als can be crea­ted with mate­rial para­me­ters that were not pos­si­ble before and high­lights the large poten­tial of such mate­ri­als for impro­ving opti­cal systems.

About the »Applied Pho­to­nics Award«

The »Applied Pho­to­nics Award« emer­ged from the »Green Pho­to­nics Young Sci­en­tist Award« – since 2018 with a new look and new con­tent. It is awarded by the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute for Applied Optics and Pre­cis­ion Engi­nee­ring IOF in Jena, Ger­many. The insti­tute has been con­duc­ting appli­ca­tion-ori­en­ted rese­arch in the fields of optics and pho­to­nics for over 25 years. As key tech­no­lo­gies, these disci­pli­nes con­tri­bute to sol­ving upco­ming chal­lenges for society, eco­nomy, and indus­try. In order to honor par­ti­cu­larly ori­gi­nal and inno­va­tive the­ses deal­ing with the topics of applied pho­to­nics, this young rese­ar­cher award was created.

This year’s »Applied Pho­to­nics Award« is again being pre­sen­ted with the kind sup­port of the Asso­cia­tion of Ger­man Engi­neers (VDI) and the com­pa­nies Active Fiber Sys­tems, JENOPTIK and TRUMPF.