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German-Polish physicist duo win 2014 Copernicus Award

14 May 2014

Quantum optics researchers from Munich and Gdansk recognised by DFG and Foundation for Polish Science.

Quantum optics physicists Professor Harald Weinfurter from the Ludwig Maximilians University and Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Munich, Germany, and Professor Marek Żukowski from the University of Gdansk, Poland, have been awarded the 2014 Copernicus Award from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP, Fundacja na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej) for their services to German-Polish research cooperation.

The awards jury, from the DFG and the FNP, said that the pair were "outstanding individual researchers" and as collaborating researchers, their "joint research projects have yielded clear and important results". The Copernicus Award, with €100,000 in prize money, will be presented on 10 September 2014 in Berlin by the Presidents of the DFG and the FNP, Professor Peter Strohschneider and Professor Maciej Żylicz.

Weinfurter and Żukowski have been working together successfully for many years and have produced numerous joint publications. Professor Żukowski contributes his expertise in theoretical quantum physics, whereas Professor Weinfurter conducts experiments in this area.

Harald Weinfurter

Since 1999, Weinfurter has held a professorship for experimental quantum optics at the LMU, where he was also vice-dean of the Physics Faculty from 2008 to 2012. Having studied physics and completed his doctorate in Vienna, he habilitated in Innsbruck. Subsequently he worked in Vienna and at the Hahn-Meitner Institute in Berlin and then returned to Innsbruck.

Weinfurter's research concerns the fundamental aspects of quantum physics. His areas of interest include experimental quantum interferometry with correlated photons, quantum correlations and entangled states and quantum communication and information and their application in quantum cryptography and quantum metrology.

Weinfurter has received numerous awards for his work, including the Philip Morris Prize for Research in 2003 and the Descartes Prize from the European Union in 2004. He has been a Max Planck Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching since 2010 and is associated with Nobel Laureate Professor Theodor W. Hänsch's Department of Laser Spectroscopy.

Marek Żukowski

Żukowski has been professor of physics since 1998 at the University of Gdansk. Initially appointed as associate professor, he has held a chair since 2006. He was head of the Department for Quantum Optics at the Institute for Physics at the University of Gdansk from 1996 to 2005 and is now head of the Institute. He is a founding member of the National Quantum Information Centre of Gdansk, which was established in 2007, and since 2010 a member of the board of the National Centre for Science, a research funding organisation.

He has received the Prize for Science from the Polish Ministry for Education four times and has been awarded prizes by the Rector of Gdansk University three times. Periods as a visiting professor in Beijing, China and the award in 2006 of a Wenner Gren Fellowship from Sweden, like his many years of collaboration with Professor Weinfurter, underline his position in a widely international network.

The prize money is donated by the DFG and the FNP in equal shares and is divided evenly between the two prizewinners, who may use it for any scientific purpose that is within the scope of the funding programs of both organizations. Priority should be given to jointly supporting early career researchers.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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