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Laser Companies Nominated for German Science Prize

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MUNICH, Oct. 10, 2013 — Scientists from laser makers Trumpf and Coherent are among the three teams nominated for the final round of the 2013 Federal German President's Award for Innovation in Science and Technology, the Deutscher Zukunftspreis, the country's most prestigious national award.

Joining Trumpf Laser GmbH + Co. KG of Schramberg and partners Friedrich Schiller University and Fraunhofer IOF, both of Jena; and Coherent LaserSystems GmbH & Co. KG of Göttingen, is a team from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and Philips Technologie GmbH in Aachen.

The CEOs and chairmen of scientific and business institutions in Germany can submit up to three projects to the president's office for consideration. The jury then categorizes the submissions and decides on the three or four innovations that will make it to the final round. Among the criteria for awarding the prize is the marketability of the products.

This year's three research-and-development projects "represent a mega trend in industrial implementation" toward using light, the president's office said, because "new forms of light are revolutionizing lighting; light is increasingly replacing mechanical and chemical processing in manufacturing and is a tool used to produce state-of-the-art high-tech products."

Members of Trumpf Laser's team include (l-r): Dr. Jens König, Dr. Stefan Nolte and Dr. Dirk Sutter.  Images courtesy Deutscher Zukunftspreis.

The Trumpf team was cited for its project, "Ultrashort pulse lasers for industrial mass production: manufacturing with light flashes." The researchers developed tools based on lasers that emit high-energy laser pulses no more than a billionth of a second in duration, allowing extremely precise and reliable machining of material. All major manufacturers already rely on this technology, the prize committee said.

Members of Coherent LaserSystems team are (l-r) Dr. Ralph Delmdahl, Dipl.-Ing. Rainer Pätzel and Dr.-Ing. Kai Schmidt. 

The Coherent team was honored for "Crystalline circuit layers for vital displays – Bye, bye, pixels!" The researchers introduced a novel laser system capable of producing polycrystalline silicon layers at large scales using powerful ultraviolet light pulses. Polysilicon backplanes are at the heart of today's slim-design, high-resolution displays for smartphones, tablets and the latest generation of OLED displays.

The system includes a new kilowatt-class excimer laser plus a line beam optical system, and it creates a long-length line focus (750 mm) with high-energy density. The line beam moves across the amorphous silicon layer and causes local melting, while closely behind the line focus, the silicon cools and crystallizes. Both laser power and line beam length can be scaled up according to demand.

Members of the LMU/Philips team are Dr. Wolfgang Schnick (left) and Dr. Peter J. Schmidt.

The LMU/Philips team was cited for its project, "Energy-saving solid-state chemistry – new materials light up the world." The group developed substances with outstanding properties that can be used as luminous material in white LEDs, making the diodes very efficient, long lasting and affordable. The innovative light sources that can now be manufactured in series production can open the door for energy-saving LED lighting of rooms and roads, the committee said.

Besides innovative research, another criteria for receipt of the Deutscher Zukunftspreis is the marketability of the product.

The Deutscher Zukunftspreis comes with €250,000 (about $338,000) in prize money and will be awarded Dec. 4 by Federal President Joachim Gauck at a gala event in Berlin.

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Oct 2013
excimer laser
A rare-gas halide or rare-gas metal vapor laser emitting in the ultraviolet (126 to 558 nm) that operates on electronic transitions of molecules, up to that point diatomic, whose ground state is essentially repulsive. Excitation may be by E-beam or electric discharge. Lasing gases include ArCl, ArF, KrCl, KrF, XeCl and XeF.
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