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Short pulse pioneer scoops award

13 Jul 2004

Experts in short pulses, fiber lasers and biomedicine win €35,000 in this year's Leibinger awards.

The 2004 Berthold Leibinger Innovation Prize for applied laser physics has been awarded to pioneers in ultrashort pulse generation, fiber lasers and lung surgery.

Three prizes were presented at a ceremony at Trumpf's Ditzingen facility in Germany last Wednesday (8 July). Ursula Keller from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich scooped first prize (€20,000) for her invention of the SESAM -- a semiconductor saturable absorber mirror that plays a vital role in ultrashort light pulse generation.

Second prize (€10,000) was awarded to a team of scientists (Andreas Tünnermann, Stefan Nolte and Holger Zellmer) from the Friedrich Schiller University and Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics, both in Jena, for their pioneering work on high-power fiber lasers.

Third prize (€5000) went to Axel Rolle, a physician specializing in thoracic surgery at a hospital in Coswig, Germany, for developing a laser system that is especially effective on lung tissue.

The biennial award scheme is organized by the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung, a private foundation established by the president of the TRUMPF group in 1992. Every two years it awards a total of €35,000 to researchers for their outstanding research in the laser field.

The other short-listed nominees for the 2004 awards were:
•  Paul French from Imperial College, London for his work on fluorescence lifetime imaging.
•  Antoine Weiss, Georg Bison and Robert Wynands from the University of Friborg, Switzerland for the development of a laser magnetometer for analyzing human heart beats.
•  Thomas Vogl's group at University Medical Center Frankfurt for laser-induced thermotherapy of liver disorders.
•  Johannes Koeth, the founder of the German start-up Nanoplus, for his commercialization of quantum-dot and quantum cascade semiconductor lasers.
•  A team from the Technical University Clausthal and Wacker-Chemie GmbH for contamination-free sintering of a ceramic by a CO2 laser.

In 2002, awards were given for the invention of the disk laser concept, femtosecond laser surgery of the eye, and microscopy with ultrashort-pulsed lasers.

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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