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Two new photonics clusters of excellence established in Hanover

Two new photonics clusters of excellence have been established in Hanover, Germany, following their selection for funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The proposals for the PhoenixD and Quantum Frontiers clusters were put forward by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) together with the Technische Universität Braunschweig. Set to become operational in the coming months, from 1 January 2019 the clusters will recieve funding ranging between 3-10 million euros a year, initially for seven years. 

The selection of the clusters for funding is a milestone for photonics research in Hanover, according to the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), a research institute that will be working directly with the two clusters. ‘With this funding, we will significantly advance photonics research and bring innovations to the economy and everyday life more quickly,’ said Dr Stefan Kaierle, a scientific-technical director at the LZH. 

PhoenixD (Photonics, Optics, and Engineering - Innovation Across Disciplines) will aim to advance the production of optics by uniting optical design, optical simulation and modern production methods in a single integrated platform. This could lead to optical precision devices being additively manufactured in a quick and inexpensive way. 

The cluster – a cross-disciplinary initiative between mechanical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, computer science and chemistry – will combine high-end optics and production technology together with simulation and material expertise. PhoenixD will also be working on manipulating plants using lasers, simplifying and promoting diagnostic procedures, developing adaptive eyeglass lenses and improving road safety through the use of optical units. The LZH will be contributing its expertise in optical coatings to this cluster. 

Quantum Frontiers (Light and Matter at the Quantum Frontier: Foundations of and Applications in Metrology) – an interdisciplinary network of physicists, engineers and scientists – has set itself the goal of completely controlling the quantum states of light and matter, which would form the basis of future metrology via new nano-scale measurement technologies. Accomplishing this would have positive effects on navigation, time synchronisation, cryptography, biological systems and materials science, according to the LZH. New material developments at the nanoscale should also be possible through the research, as well as advances in semiconductor technology. Lastly, research on gravitational waves would also benefit from this heightened level of precision, helping lay the foundation for detecting the Big Bang. 

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