Tobias Kippenberg, Jean-Pierre Wolf Win ZEISS Research Award

Prof. Tobias J. Kippenberg and Prof. Jean-Pierre Wolf are the 2018 winners of the prestigious ZEISS Research Award. The jury was impressed by their exceptional work.

Tobias Kippenberg

Tobias Kippenberg, Professor at the Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is a pioneer in the field of cavity optomechanics and microresonator-based optical frequency combs. His research has demonstrated that, by using microresonators – which can confine light in an extremely small space and guide it – the faint forces exerted by light rays can be used to measure and cool mechanical movements in the quantum regime. This means, for instance, that high-precision sensors can be developed to measure mechanical movements that are several orders of magnitude more precise than the currently available position sensors, and that are even sensitive enough to measure the quantum mechanical “zero point motion” of a mechanical oscillator.

Jean-Pierre Wolf

Jean-Pierre Wolf, Professor at the Biophotonics Institute at the University of Geneva, will be honored for his groundbreaking application of ultra-short, ultra-intense laser pulses in researching the earth’s atmosphere. His research makes it possible to find out more about pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere and potentially control lightning and condensation in clouds. This could even make it possible to prevent extreme weather. The focus of his research efforts has been on the applications of ultra-short spectroscopy for biological, medical and environmental research.

The awards will be presented during the ZEISS Symposium “Optics in the Quantum World” on April 18, 2018 at the ZEISS Forum in Oberkochen.

ZEISS Research Award

The ZEISS Research Award is presented every two years and has been allocated prize money totaling 40,000 euros. The selected candidates should have already demonstrated outstanding achievements in the field of optics or photonics. They should still be actively conducting research, and their work should offer major potential for gaining further knowledge and enabling practical applications.

This year’s high-profile jury comprises the following members:

  • Jürgen Mlynek, Humboldt University of Berlin, Former President of the Helmholtz Association, Chairman of the Jury
  • Alain Aspect, Institut d’Optique Palaiseau (France)
  • Stefan Hell, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen; winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014 and the Carl Zeiss Research Award in 2002
  • Anne L’Huillier, Lund University (Sweden); winner of the Carl Zeiss Research Award in 2013
  • Ulrich Simon, Senior Vice President, Corporate Research & Technology, Carl Zeiss AG
  • Andreas Tünnermann, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena

Initiated and funded by Carl Zeiss AG, the ZEISS Research Award is the successor to the Carl Zeiss Research Award that honored outstanding achievements in optical research every two years from 1990 onward. Many winners of Carl Zeiss Research Award went on to obtain further awards and distinctions; four of them were even honored with the Nobel Prize.

  • Ahmed H. Zewail, winner in 1992: Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1999
  • Eric A. Cornell, winner in 1996: Nobel Prize for Physics in 2001
  • Shuji Nakamura, winner in 2000: Nobel Prize for Physics in 2014
  • Stefan Hell, winner in 2002: Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014

Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers

Since 2016, independently of the ZEISS Research Award, the Ernst Abbe Foundation in the Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany has been presenting a research award with a focus on up-and-coming talent: the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers. The award has been allocated prize money totaling 21,000 euros and will be shared equally among three winners, with each receiving 7,000 euros. This award will also be presented at the ZEISS Symposium on 18 April 2018. The winners in 2018 are:

  • Dr. Irene Costantini, European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy, Florence
  • Dr. Kilian Heeg, Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Heidelberg
  • Dr. Fabian Stutzki, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering, Jena


ZEISS is an internationally technology enterprise operating in the optics and optoelectronics industries. The ZEISS Group develops, produces and distributes measuring technology, microscopes, medical technology, eyeglass lenses, camera and cinema lenses, binoculars and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. With its solutions, the company constantly advances the world of optics and helps shape technological progress. ZEISS is divided up into the four segments research & quality technology, medical technology, vision care/consumer products and semiconductor manufacturing technology. The ZEISS Group is represented in more than 40 countries and has over 50 sales and service locations, more than 30 manufacturing sites and about 25 research and development centers around the globe.

In fiscal year 2016/17 the company generated revenue approximating €5.3 billion with around 27,000 employees. Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. Carl Zeiss AG is the strategic management holding company that manages the ZEISS Group. The company is wholly owned by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung (Carl Zeiss Foundation).

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