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Prestigious Leibinger prizes awarded for innovation, leadership

12 September 2016

Ursula Keller and Gerard Mourou Qihuang Gong and Eugene Arthurs
Juror Ursula Keller and
prize winner Gérard Mourou
Juror Qihuang Gong and
SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs

The Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis and Zukunftspreis winners were named in Ditzingen, Germany, on 9 September.

Four prizes were awarded: three Innovationspreis awards for laser research, and the Zukunftspreis (Future Prize). The Berthold Leibinger Stiftung aims to stimulate scientific effort by awarding these biannual international research and innovation prizes.

Zukunftspreis winner Gerard Mourou

Gérard Mourou

Gérard Mourou of École Polytechnique is the recipient of the Leibinger Zukunftspreis (Future Prize) for his invention of chirped pulse amplification (CPA) while at the University of Rochester. This technique made possible the amplification of short laser pulses to extremely high peak power. With CPA, he pioneered femtosecond ophthalmology.

Mourou is Director of IZEST, the International Center on Zetta-Exawatt Science and Technology at École Polytechnique. He founded the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan in 1991. In 1995 with colleague Toshiki Tajima he founded the Advanced Photon KPSI Center in Japan, and in 2006 he initiated Europe's Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania.

Four individuals or groups were honored with the Innovationspreis.

First prize went to Balthasar Fischer of XARION Laser Acoustics for the membrane-free optical microphone, a new type of acoustic sensor where miniscule pressure differences are sensed directly by their influence on the refractive index using laser interferometry.

Two second prizes were awarded. Garrett Cole and Markus Aspelmeyer of Crystalline Mirror Solutions and the Universitiy of Vienna received one of the two for crystalline coatings for precision laser optics.

The other went to the Project Group Direct Laser Interference Patterning, for the technique of the same name that allows fast and precise tailoring of material surface microstructures and topographies on industrially relevant scales.

Third prize went to the Laser Guide Star Alliance, consisting of SPIE Corporate Member TOPTICA Photonics, MPB Communications, and the European Southern Observatory. The industrial consortium jointly developed and realized a novel fully-integrated laser system, allowing astronomers to cover the visible and IR wavelengths with narrow-band and high powers.

All of the Innovationspreis winners are scheduled to present papers at SPIE Photonics West in January 2017.

The prize winners are selected by an independent jury in a two-tier process. After a pre-evaluation with the help of experts, eight finalists are selected and invited to the jury session. The jury decides on the prize winners after a presentation by each of the finalists.

The 10-person jury included Nobel Laureate Theodor Hänsch, as well as SPIE Fellow Ursula Keller and SPIE Past President and Fellow Katarina Svanberg.