QUEST Excellence Cluster gets underway

Research on the quantum limit begins

May 23, 2008

Today, on 23 May 2008, the Hannover QUEST Excellence Cluster (Center for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research), has officially started its work. In the four areas of quantum engineering, quantum sensors, space-time research and novel technologies, around 60 new scientists will be involved in the coming five years, in addition to the 190 already pursuing research on the quantum limit.

Scientific institutions taking part in QUEST:

  • Leibniz Universität Hannover
  • Institute of Quantum Optics (IQ)
  • Institute of Gravitational Physics
  • Institute of Theoretical Physics
  • Institute of Solid State Physics
  • Institute of Soil Surveying (IFE)
  • Institute for Applied Mathematics (IFAM)
  • Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI), Hannover
  • Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), Hannover
  • GEO600 gravitational wave detector, Ruthe
  • Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Braunschweig
  • Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM), Bremen

The Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Government

With the Excellence Initiative for Higher Education Institutions, the German Federal Government and the German states want to support research and innovation in Germany. By 2011 the Excellence Initiative will have provided funding in the amount of 1.9 billion Euros,  75% of which is contributed by the federal government, 25% of which is contributed by the states. One million Euros annually have been set aside for a total of 40 graduate schools, in the expectation that they will support the training of junior scientists. 195 million Euros per year is available for networks involved in top scientific research, so-called excellence clusters. Universities that have at least one international cluster of excellence, a graduate school and a coherent overall strategy to be globally recognized as a “beacon of science” can also apply for the funding of “future concepts for top university research”. 210 million Euros are available per year for this line of funding.


Background information

The goal of the scientists involved in QUEST is to unite the quantized world of quantum physics with the continuous relativity theory of space, time and gravitation into one physical model. In doing so, scientists now have recourse to completely new concepts concerning precision measurement of length, time, acceleration, rotation, etc., which have been created in recent years by new quantum technologies and quantum engineering methods. These include, for example, the new atomic lasers or the Bose-Einstein condensates, a macroscopic quantum state of matter that was predicted by Einstein and that has since been experimentally verified.

QUEST research projects seek to establish a close bond between basic and applied research, as the findings of basic research provide essential information for applications such as next generation of satellite navigation systems. These include the European navigation system Galileo, new earth observation satellites, or considerably more precise geodetic reference systems. Quantum technologies, as used and developed here, therefore form an excellent basis for industrial co-operation and innovative high-tech products.

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