- State Research Center for Optics and Material Sciences (OPTIMAS)
The State Research Center for Optics and Material Sciences (OPTIMAS) connects two areas of research for which the University of Kaiserslautern has a national and international reputation, founded upon relevant contributions to the development of laser physics, photonics and plasmonics. Researchers in Kaiserslautern have also been prominent in the development of magnetic, electronic and molecular materials, as well as thin films, nanostructures and ultracold quantum gases. In order to continue building on this research foundation, OPTIMAS has been established at TU Kaiserslautern within the framework of the research initiative of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Research at OPTIMAS
OPTIMAS combines natural and engineering sciences in the research areas of optics and material sciences. The participating researchers bring together their expertise in the areas of
Their multifaceted projects include both fundamental and technologically oriented research, and fall under the general theme of "Light – Spin – Matter". Several OPTIMAS research objectives are thematically extremely broad and can only be pursued through the combination of multiple model-based and experimental approaches. The "Light – Spin – Matter" core unites diverse cutting-edge research areas such as
- Bose-Einstein condensates and
- optical switches.
A typical example of the wide range of OPTIMAS research objectives is Spin Engineering.
This research area ranges from
- spin chains,
- artificial materials such as ultra-cold gases,
- chemical systems such as poly-nuclear transition metal complexes,
- organic and inorganic semiconductors and
- ferromagnetic nanostructures.
Spin engineering also leads to applications, for example in the development of new materials for computer memory and novel sensors. Investigations into spin engineering have already been carried out at TU Kaiserslautern from various perspectives and will be advanced further in a more efficient way under the aegis of OPTIMAS.
Research groups from three different departments at TU Kaiserslautern – Physics, Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering – are members of OPTIMAS. Several additional research centers and institutions are also members:
- the Nano+Bio Center of TU Kaiserslautern,
- the Institut für Oberflächen- und Schichtanalytik (Institute for Surface Science and Thin-film Analysis, IFOS)
- the Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe (Institute for Composites Materials, IVW),
- the Terahertz Measurements and Systems Department from the Fraunhofer Institut für Physikalische Messtechnik (Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques, Freiburg), which is an associate of TU Kaiserslautern.
The balance between theoretical, experimental, and applied research groups is characteristic for the Research Center. Since OPTIMAS is a dynamic research association whose primary research themes are on a path of continuous development, its membership composition is likewise continuously adapting. Most of the scientists of OPTIMAS are in their international scientific community well known due to their publication activity in internationally journals (e.g. Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Physical Review Letters, Journal of the American Physical Society, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition). The current manager of operations at OPTIMAS, professor Martin Aeschlimann is also a member of the External Advisory Board of PULSE Laboratory at Stanford University. Another member of OPTIMAS is Burkard Hillebrands in addition he is a member of various international scientific associations e.g. IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and APS (American Physical Society).
Transregional Collaborative Research Centers
- SFB/TRR 49 „Condensed Matter Systems with Variable Many-Body Interactions”, together with University of Frankfurt and University of Mainz, as well as Max Planck Insitute for Polymer Research, and
- SFB/TRR 88 3MET „Cooperative Effects in Homo- and Heterometallic Complexes“ together with Karlsruhe Institut of Technology (KIT).
These research programs by the German Science Foundation are internationally highly reputed due to their funding amount (e.g. 12 million € for SFB/TRR 88 for 2011–2014) and their long-term perspective. Although renewals after 4 years periods are required, a 12 year perspective of the research program is the most relevant criteria for approval of a SFB consortium and in the end, is the overall funding period. In addition, one of the first German-Japanese joint Research Units by DFG and the Japanese Science and Technology Agency (JST), the Research Unit FOR 1464 „Advanced Spintronics Materials & Transport Phenomena (ASPIMATT)“ is integrated in OPTIMAS. It brings together scientists of University of Kaiserslautern with Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan).
Goals of OPTIMAS
The strategic aim of OPTIMAS is to further advance research and education in the interdisciplinary areas of photonics, spintronics, molecular and magnetic functional materials, and nanostructures. A definitive expression of these goals was the implementation of the OPTIMAS graduate program (funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation) in 2009. OPTIMAS is furthermore actively involved in the appointment of highly acclaimed scientists as well as in the recruitment of young scientists (e.g. Junior Professors). OPTIMAS supports the funding acquisition of its associated research groups by strengthening their research infrastructure, such as by maintaining and upgrading research equipment, and by interdisciplinary networking.
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