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Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis 2023

27 September 2023

Three men collect award at prizegiving ceremony.
(L-R) Dr Henning Vahlbruch, Professor Benno Willke and Professor Hartmut Grote collecting the first prize at the Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis awards ceremony held on Friday 22 September 2023.

A Cardiff University physicist has received first prize honours at an international award ceremony for innovations in laser technology.

Professor Hartmut Grote of Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy is one of three recipients of the Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis 2023.

Presented every two years by the Berthold Leibinger Foundation, the awards recognise outstanding achievements in scientific or industrial research using or generating laser light.

Professor Grote together with colleagues Dr Henning Vahlbruch and Professor Benno Willke of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Leibniz University Hannover will receive the award for their work on ‘Ultra High Precision Light Sources in Fundamental Physics and Beyond’.

Professor Grote, a physicist at the Univeristy’s Gravity Exploration Institute, said: "I’m very happy about the award and grateful to the Leibinger Foundation, but also to the many colleagues who have contributed to this work. Our work shows how extremely precise and versatile lasers can be, and how our lasers are key for the detection of gravitational waves."

Here in Cardiff our laser developments are also used to search for dark matter and possible signs of quantum gravity, namely, to find answers about the question whether space-time is grainy at the smallest scales. If we can learn about the fabric of space-time itself, we would have a first experimental clue on how to combine quantum physics and gravity theory, the two most successful physical theories of the 20th century.

Professor Hartmut Grote Gravity Exploration Institute

The team’s submission outlines the innovations in laser physics which led to detections of gravitational waves – revolutionizing astronomy and our understanding of the universe.

Watch the Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis 2023 first prize film

Essential to this breakthrough was:

  • extreme stabilization of high-power lasers
  • generation and coherent control of squeezed vacuum fields
  • novel control techniques for squeezed light application

Other applications in quantum communications and light-based quantum computing are also expected to be beneficiaries of Professor Grote and the team’s work.

Read the full list of laser award nominees.

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