Slideshow

Glowing Flowers at our glow stick competition

At our Open House day the Photonworld-Team had a lot of fun with glow sticks.The creative works of our visitors were photographed in a black box. Here you find a gallery of the best pics! The winner is the girl with flowers you see in the first picture of the slideshow. Congrats!

Slideshow

Calculation training for photons

Physicists working with Prof. Gerhard Rempe at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have used a trick to get photons to interact with one another: they built a quantum logic gate – the foundation of a quantum computer.

Interview
The power of photons
The power of photons
When radiation encounters an obstacle, it creates pressure – much like the wind does when filling a sail. In this interview, LMU professor Jörg Schreiber from the Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics discusses what the power of light can do.
Slideshow

The laboratory that brought us closer to the stars

A visit to the glassworks at Benediktbeuern Monastery transports visitors back in time to the optics pioneers of the 19th century, to where Joseph von Fraunhofer made the world's best telescopes and microscopes of the day.

Technology
Global change in artificial light
Global change in artificial light
At Lake Stechlin in the German state of Brandenburg, freshwater ecologists explore how animals react to artificial light at night, in order to better understand the global problem of light pollution and its effects on ecology. In recent years, we’ve already gained some insight into the potential impacts of light pollution.
Cosmology
The dark side of the universe
The dark side of the universe
Over the last centuries, astronomers have revealed many mysteries of the universe with the help of light. But since the 1930s, scientists discover more and more hints that the majority of the cosmos is hidden in darkness. It seems that roughly 85% of the universe are made of an — up to now unknown — kind of matter which neither absorbs nor emits light. Consequently, a direct observation with telescopes is not possible. But what is this Dark Matter made of? Why do scientists actually know of its existence if they cannot observe it directly? And are there possibilities and tools to reveal its secrets?
Technology
The laser: tool of a thousand possibilities
The laser: tool of a thousand possibilities
Light is the entry ticket into deeply hidden worlds of knowledge. When classical mechanics reached its limits decades ago, lasers had just begun their journey. Researchers today use laser light as fine tweezers, ultrafast cameras or precise clockwork mechanisms. Since its invention in 1960, the laser has experienced a boom. With it, scientists can explore both the tiniest structures in the microcosm, and huge natural phenomena in the farthest reaches of the universe.
Cosmology
The sun: the engine of life
The sun: the engine of life
The birth of stars is chaotic. Hot and cold gases mix in a huge ruckus. Molecular clouds join from complex chemical elements. Dust clouds join in, and ultraviolet radiation bombards the mix. Magnetic fields and gravity bring all this matter together. In this way – or, in a very similar way – our sun was born around 4.7 billion years ago.
Biology
Unleashing the power of light to control life
Unleashing the power of light to control life
The human brain is a tremendously complex system. Out of this enormous complexity, patterns like cognition, emotion and behavior somehow emerge. What laws, principles and mechanisms make this possible? Can we reconstruct how the human brain really works? Neuroscience has been revolutionized by optogenetics — a combination of optics and genetics using laser light to understand and control biological processes within living systems.
Technology
Keeping Time with Light

Keeping Time with Light

An international team of researchers based at the universities of Vienna, Duisburg-Essen and Tel Aviv have succeeded in using polarized laser light to rotate a nanorod in a controlled fashion, providing a stable micromechanical oscillator for an electronic timekeeper. With the aid of laser beams, the group led by Stefan Kuhn, James Millen and Markus Arndt of the University of Vienna trapped a silicon nanorad, less than one-thousandth of a millimeter long, in a vacuum. The two counter-propagating light beams effectively keep the rod in suspension, and a third laser is used to rotate the rod by means of pulses of polarized light. Since the rotation is locked to the pulse frequency, the rotation period is sufficiently stable to act as a high-precision clock. Over a period of 4 days, this clock loses no more than a millionth of a second.

Technology
Hidden in a Web of Light

Hidden in a Web of Light

Researchers at the Technical University of Vienna have developed the theoretical basis for a cloaking technology which suggests that objects could be concealed from sight at the flick of a switch.

Technology
Laser-based Monitoring of Space Debris

Laser-based Monitoring of Space Debris

In addition to interplanetary dust, space debris presents a significant threat to working satellites. A team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering has developed a new tool to track this hazardous waste – a fibre laser that determines the positions and trajectories of uncontrolled flying objects.

Technology
UV-driven drill penetrates cancer cells

UV-driven drill penetrates cancer cells

Researchers at Rice University in Houston have synthesized molecular motors that can kill cancer cells by drilling holes in them when activated by UV light.

Technology
Packing more data into photons

Packing more data into photons

Physicists at the University of Ottawa have managed to encode more than single bits of information in light quanta, and have successfully transmitted the encrypted data over a distance of 300 meters in a turbulent urban setting.

Technology
Artworks from the Quantum World

Artworks from the Quantum World

The graphical representation of experimental data in the field of attosecond physics has produced a new genre of geometric art, characterized by aesthetically pleasing forms depicted in all the colours of the rainbow. Outlined against an ink-black background, brightly tinted concentric circles and stellar shapes reveal the fascination of the enigmatic quantum world.

Biology
A kick-start for life on Earth?

A kick-start for life on Earth?

In simulations of the conditions that prevailed on the Earth 4.5 billion years ago, teams based at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and the Sorbonne in Paris observed the formation of the canonical ribonucleobases specifically under the influence of lightning – and shock waves that mimic the effects of asteroid impacts.

Biotechnology
Algae and the Future of Aviation

Algae and the Future of Aviation

In the Technical University of Munich’s new TUM-AlgaeTec Center, researchers are exploring the use of microalgae for production of biofuels by exposing the cells to a variety of light levels and temperatures.

Geology
A Light-Based Sensor of Seismic Activity

A Light-Based Sensor of Seismic Activity

Built by Munich geophysicists, the world’s first 3-D ring laser for the detection of rotational ground movements is now in operation.

Technology
Imaging of the photonic analogue of a sonic boom

Imaging of the photonic analogue of a sonic boom

A team at Washington University in St. Louis has imaged – for the first time in real time -- the effect of a laser pulse propagating in a scattering medium.

Geology
Sand grains shed light on the peopling of Tibet

Sand grains shed light on the peopling of Tibet

Light teased from calcite minerals helps to date humanity’s conquest of the Tibetan Plateau

Biology
Secret weapon red light

Secret weapon red light

Some fish send out red light deep in the water. That gives them some advantages in their hard fight for survival and in reproduction.

Technology
“This is the fastest electric current ever measured”

“This is the fastest electric current ever measured”

On the path to faster electronics, the electron flow within a circuit plays a decisive role. Conventional methods such as batteries can be used to generate electron oscillation up to the gigahertz range. Using ultrafast laser pulses, researchers have now managed to move electrons in solid matter at a rate as fast as eight million billion oscillations per second – about one million times faster than previously possible. To measure this extremely fast current flow, the scientists relied on techniques from attosecond physics, since electronic detectors fail to read at such fast rates. They reported on their approach in the journal “Nature”. Franziska Konitzer of Welt der Physik spoke to Eleftherios Goulielmakis from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, who was involved in the research.

Technology
Forever Troy

Forever Troy

Athanassios Kaliudis, editor-in-chief of the Trumpf company magazine, outlines in his guest commentary a thrilling scenario on how the laser could help us to become nearly immortal.

Technology
Quantum physics games

Quantum physics games

LMU physicists working with Harald Weinfurter will participate in the international Big Bell Test, which tests the fundamentals of quantum physics. Everyone is invited to make a random entry in a browser-based game on November 30th and thus contribute to scientific experiments.

Technology
A zeptosecond stopwatch for the microcosm

A zeptosecond stopwatch for the microcosm

When light strikes electrons in atoms, their state can change unimaginably quickly. The laser physicists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have measured such a phenomenon – namely that of photoionization, in which an electron exits a helium atom after excitation by light – for the first time with zeptosecond precision. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a of a second (10-21 seconds). This is the greatest accuracy of time determination of an event in the microcosm ever achieved, as well as the first absolute determination of the timescale of photoionization.

Technology
James Bond experiences laser material processing

James Bond experiences laser material processing

Athanassios Kaliudis, editor-in-chief of the Trumpf company magazine „Laser Community“, writes in our guest commentary about a famous film scene from the 1960s. Back then one was still looking for possible applications for the laser. Hollywood already had a suggestion.

art and culture
A mysterious face

A mysterious face

A second picture is hiding under a portrait painting by Edgar Degas from 1778. A team in Melbourne made it visible by using X-rays at the Australian Synchrotron.

art and culture
The man who felt the light

The man who felt the light

At the beginning of the 19th century one was able to understand better what light was about from a physical point of view. This was as well reflected in the art of painting and later on in the photography. One who was able to paint light like no other, was William Turner.

Technology
Now in 3D: “Spooky Action at a Distance”

Now in 3D: “Spooky Action at a Distance”

Quantum physicists have entangled three photons in three dimensions. This breakthrough opens up new perspectives for quantum cryptography and data storage in the future.

Technology
Round the world on solar power

Round the world on solar power

Defying the fate of Ikaros, two intrepid pilots recently completed a round-the-world flight powered by the rays of the Sun. Their specially designed aircraft, Solar Impulse2, completed the trip without consuming a drop of fossil fuel.

Biology
A human eye detects a single photon

A human eye detects a single photon

Just how dark does it have to be before our eyes stop working? Research by a team from Rockefeller University and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Austria has shown that humans can detect the presence of a single photon, the smallest measurable unit of light. Previous studies had established that human subjects acclimated to the dark were capable only of reporting flashes of five to seven photons.

Technology
Power from the Tower

Power from the Tower

A solar thermal power plant is under construction in Israel’s Negev Desert, which will use thousands of mirrors to focus concentrated sunlight onto the highest solar energy tower in the world. German researchers are also working to perfect the technology.

Technology
Elegant hybrid being

Elegant hybrid being

Bioengineers from Harvard University constructed a ray-like robot made from a gold skeleton and living cells. They control it with light.

Technology
Save for five billion years

Save for five
billion years

A Team of the University of Southampton developed a system that is capable of storing data up to five billion years.

Science Fiction
Illusions in the Round

Illusions in the Round

In the future gamers will be able to engage with hologram hordes not just on flatscreens, but in 3D – as soon as light-based computers become available. These machines will process data 100,000 times faster than today’s models. Physicists are actively seeking ways to overcome the technical obstacles that currently stand in the way of optoelectronic computing. A possible solution to the problem of heat dissipation has now been demonstrated.

Technology
Sailing to the Stars

Sailing to the stars

A group of researchers including physicist Stephen Hawking plans to launch laser-powered mini-satellites to our nearest stellar neighbour within the next 15 years.

Biology
Lasers and the future of drug synthesis

Lasers and the future of drug synthesis

The year is 2060, and thanks to technical advances in production procedures, drugs will be highly specific – and exceptionally effective in extremely small doses. For it is now possible to manipulate the atoms in organic molecules at will – by means of laser light. Physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and at LMU Munich are now laying the foundations for the realization of such a revolutionary approach to chemical synthesis.

Physics
A story of light

A story of light

A small group of scientists from the Laboratory of Attosecond Physics created a chain reaction device to tell the story of light.

Technology
Fueled by the sun

Fueled by the sun

The sun is the most important source of energy for life on earth. This energy, in the form of sunlight, is harnessed and fully exploited by nature with its own systems: think of plants growing, flowering and producing fruit, the changing seasons, and our own circadian rhythms. The resourceful human race has used sunlight since the beginning of our history, too: for example, for warmth, for preserving and drying food, and for removing salt from seawater to create freshwater. But human innovation has recently uncovered ways in which we can maximize the sun’s massive energy potential even more.

Technology
The speed of light — and its limits

The speed of light — and its limits

Light seems to be infinitely fast. A lamp alights in the moment one flips the switch, and the exchange of information around the world using glass fibers happens without noticeable delay. But are there situations in which we recognize a limitation of the speed of light? On which scales can we prove its finiteness?