AEI scientist honoured
Dr. Patrick Kwee receives the “Wissenschaftspreis des Freundeskreises” from Leibniz Universität Hannover
For his outstanding dissertation focussing on laser stabilization, Patrick Kwee was presented yesterday with the “Wissenschaftspreis Hannover” science award, which carries a value of 4000 euros. This is the most important prize bestowed by Leibniz Universität Hannover. With this award, the university’s Friends Association honours an excellent junior scientist every two years.
“In his dissertation, Patrick Kwee has achieved a number of things that go far beyond what is even remotely expected from a doctoral student. His work has attracted great attention in the international community,” says Kwee’s doctorate supervisor Prof. Karsten Danzmann, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) Hannover and head of the Institute for Gravitational Physics Leibniz Universität Hannover, in his laudation.
Patrick Kwee works at the AEI in the Working Group headed by Dr. Benno Willke, where he received his doctorate with honours (summa cum laude) in January. The high-power lasers developed in this Working Group together with the Laser Zentrum Hannover are being used in gravitational wave detectors the world over. For the search for gravitational waves, the scientists are dependent upon extremely sensitive measuring instruments. Even the slightest noise by the laser system disturbs the measurements.
The topic of Kwee’s dissertation is: “Laser Characterization and Stabilization for Precision Interferometry”. For his thesis, the highly motivated researcher conceived numerous innovative technologies to improve the quality of the high-power lasers. Among other things, he developed a sensitive sensor that is based on particularly low-noise electronics. Once installed in the laser system, this sensor ensures, through acoustic feedback, that the laser output is stabilized in a self-regulating manner. The young physicist thereby achieved through his efforts twice the sensitivity than in former experiments. By so doing, he holds the world-record in classic laser light stabilization. This new sensor is also considered to be a decisive component for the stabilization of the laser system that will soon be installed in the Advanced LIGO gravitational wave detector in the USA.
What's more, the junior scientist has thus entered unchartered territory. “We long believed that the output stability of lasers was limited through the quantum mechanical photon shot noise of the detected laser light,” says Kwee. Thanks to his newly developed procedure, the disruptive noise component can be split off. “By so doing, we can attain a new lower boundary for the output stability, which is almost 10-times lower that with standard actively stabilized lasers,” says Kwee.