Three Young Researchers Honored with Hugo Geiger Prizes

Munich, /

At the Munich Science Days, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, along with the Free State of Bavaria, is 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.

© Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Awards Ceremony Hugo Geiger Prize 2015 (f.l.t.r.: Prof. Dr. Hubert Lakner, Executive Director of Fraunhofer IPMS, Dr. Johannes Müller, Award Winner, Prof. Dr. Alexander Kurz, Executive Vice President Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft)

This year, the 15th Munich Science Days are being held under the motto “Cities of the Future.” In the Alte Kongresshalle, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is putting 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 will discuss how we will live in the city of tomorrow. At the end, three doctoral candidate will receive the Hugo Geiger Prize for their outstanding, application-oriented doctoral theses. The prizes are awarded annually and endowed with 5,000 euros for the first, 3,000 euros for second and 2,000 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. Dr. 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 Radiation 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, Dr. 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 high-multiplexing process. The economic benefits go far beyond saving electricity: the radiation source type 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, Dr. 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 are 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.