Germany is Europe's largest economy and the world's No. 1 exporter. According to the Ifo Economic Institute, business confidence was at a 15-year high in April and in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup that will begin in Munich on June 9th, we will publish a number of articles on the powerhouse of the eurozone.
The article below is the third of a series.
Professor Dieter Bimberg is doing research on the television and Internet of the future. By the time the 2018 World Cup comes around, his innovative lasers will allow us to watch football matches on mega screens using technology unheard of today.
“Picture a huge, ten-metre diagonal screen at the Brandenburg Gate with unbelievably sharp images and a colour resolution you can’t even imagine,” raves Bimberg in his office at Berlin’s Technical University (TU). The physics professor and VfB Stuttgart fan is imagining a time when the World Cup will be broadcast on giant screens using his innovative technology. Unfortunately, it will take at least another ten years for his tiny blue and green high power lasers – which represent only one of the many applications for his ground-breaking research – to find their way to televisions and video projectors on the mass market.
|Professor Dieter Bimberg on left Source: TU Berlin / Press office |
For Bimberg, the improvements and advantages are already obvious: “Current televisions reproduce only 40 percent of the colours that the human eye can perceive”, Bimberg explains. His high power lasers would get much closer to reproducing the total number of colours that we can perceive. In addition to this, three of his innovative lasers would project World Cup matches in a quality that is three times as high as today’s high definition TV (HDTV). “The image is always sharp, whether it’s projected on a screen or on a structured surface“, he explains in a light Swabian accent. “Our lasers are also more economical than today’s technology. They use very little electricity.”
“Caution: Lasers and Strong Magnetic Fields” – these words are written in bright black and yellow above the doors of the cleanroom lab at the TU Berlin’s Institute for Solid State Physics, only a few steps away from Bimberg’s office. This is where the physics professor and his team have spent the past ten years researching nanostructures, a miniature world unseen by the naked eye – one nanometre is a millionth part of a millimetre. “We want to create a laser that is the size of a pinhead”, explains Bimberg. More than ten years ago, he laid the groundwork for his project when he discovered that tiny atoms, when handled under precisely-defined conditions, formed into pyramids on semiconductor surfaces. In fact, billions of them organized themselves in a matter of seconds.
Thus up to 100 billion particles were able to find space on a square centimetre chip and to project light with new and innovative characteristics that current diode lasers have yet to achieve. “The sensational aspect of this is that we can exert an influence on the properties of a material just by changing the size of the particles,” explains Bimberg. His research is an homage to the fact that tiny particles can have a big impact. They also make rare materials such as new alloys almost unnecessary. “On the contrary, we need less material.”
At the beginning of this year, Bimberg, who is recognized both at home and abroad as a pioneer of quantum physics, received the renowned Max Born Award for his invention. This “Golden Globe“ of the physics world is given out by the German Physics Association (DPG) and the British Institute of Physics for groundbreaking contributions to the field. “We physicists are prosaic people,” laughs the 63 year old, who has received many other awards in the past. In 2003, for example, he was awarded the “Russian State Award for Science and Technology” by Russian President Putin. And yet, the Max Born Award seems to have topped all the other prizes. The black-tie banquet held in his honour at the venerable Savoy Hotel in London with Champagne and butlers seems to have left an impression on the otherwise casually dressed physicist. “Before I was given the medal and certificate, we enjoyed a very tasteful toast to the Queen.”
Soon thereafter, several toasts were once again in order at the Center for Nanotechnology. The occasion was yet another special event, namely the granting of patents for innovative new particles for high power lasers. “We now own the basic patents to develop the materials with which we can produce lasers in an especially economical form on a silicone basis,” reports Bimberg, delighted. The scientist is convinced: “Whoever develops and reports patents first gets the chance to create innovative new products and exciting new job opportunities.“