News Article

Germany Funds €35m Photonics Center

German research on novel optoelectronic devices and nanostructures is reinforced by a new center of excellence funded by the country's National Science Foundation.

by Tim Hayes
Germany is setting up a center of excellence to develop novel photonic components based on compound semiconductors.

The new center, which will be part of Technical University Berlin from January 1, 2008, will receive total funding of €35 million ($52 million) from the National Science Foundation over the next twelve years. €11 million is already in place for the initial four years.

The center will support 26 principal researchers from three universities and four government-funded research institutes, who will study novel photonic and nanophotonic devices under the initial chairmanship of Michael Kneissl from the Institute of Solid State Physics at TU Berlin.

"Our goals are novel applications and systems brought directly to market by start-ups of our institutes, transferring our scientific results into products," said Dieter Bimberg, also of TU Berlin, whose research group has pioneered the development of quantum dot lasers and other novel photonic devices.

"High-brilliance high-power semiconductor lasers, powerful RGB laser projection systems, quantum cryptography and 100 Gbit/s Ethernet will be a particular focus," Bimberg added.

As well as encouraging start-ups, the center aims to promote the role of Germany and the Berlin area in worldwide photonics research. "This is a confirmation of our policy to bring outstanding young scientists back from the United States and combine them with our experienced Berlin researchers in new and powerful teams," commented Kurt Kuzler, the president of TU Berlin.

"Nowhere in Germany or Europe is a comparable center with a similarly broad approach to this complex area," said Bimberg. "Only overseas, for example at Berkeley, Santa Barbara or Tokyo, are teams following similar coherent approaches."

Research will cover three complementary project areas: materials, models and devices. "We will work on the three most important material groups of compound semiconductors: GaAs, InP and GaN," said Bimberg. "This enables us to cooperate with the most important players in the industry, like Intel, Agilent, IBM, Toshiba, NEC, Osram Opto Semiconductors or Philips, just to mention a few."

An integrated graduate college will be created alongside the new center, aiming to incorporate expertise from the center s university and institute partners into the education of PhD students.

Mentors from the institutions, visiting scientists, and incentives for publications and patents will be made available to students, and it is hoped that the school will attract young scientists to the Berlin and Magdeburg areas. "We will also actively pursue bringing more female scientists into physics and engineering," commented Kneissl.

Tim Hayes is a reporter for and Optics & Laser Europe.

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