An anniversary symposium

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Foto: FAU / Anna Tiessen

Chair of Applied Physics at FAU turns 75

The Chair of Applied Physics is one of the longest standing of its kind in Germany and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

To mark the occasion, the Chair, which has been a global center for silicon carbide research since the late 1980s, is organizing an international symposium on the topic of “Silicon carbide as quantum-classical platform” on September 14 and 15.

In our interview, Prof. Dr. Heiko B. Weber looks back at the history of the institute and looks forward to the next 75 years.

The Chair of Applied Physics is celebrating its 75th anniversary. What has changed most in this period, in your opinion?

Prof. Dr. Heiko B. Weber: Everything! At that time, solid state physics was just starting out as a new discipline, today it is the largest branch of physics altogether. Semi-conductor physics in particular, the area of physics the Chair has since focused on, has changed the world as we know it.

Before, FAU and our Chair were famous across the globe for research into zinc oxide, now the same is true for silicon carbide. Instead of conducting exploratory research into poor quality semi-conductors that were barely understood at the beginning, we are now working on the basis of near perfect materials and tried and tested knowledge. As for the way we work in our laboratories, there is no comparison!

However, one thing has stayed the same. Even then, staff shared a strong sense of identity with the Chair and felt very much at home there.

Old and new international contemporaries will join you in celebrating the anniversary during an academic symposium. Why did you choose the topic “Silicon carbide as quantum-classical platform”?

Heiko Weber: Continuing to investigate new questions is the essence of science. As “early movers”, we were among the first to conduct research into silicon carbide as a semiconductor and have been doing so for nearly four decades. Nowadays, the electronics created as a result are a multi-billion market and are making a significant contribution to the energy transition.

And now this material is once again proving quite how versatile it really is. We are convinced that we will be able to use silicon carbide to combine pioneering photonic quantum technologies with traditional technologies. We have invited colleagues from across the globe to discuss this emerging topic during our symposium. The most exciting times are just starting!

Which topics and developments are currently the focus of research at the Chair?

Heiko Weber: We are currently conducting research into three main areas: In the newly established FAU Profile Center “Light.Matter.QuantumTechnologies” we have created the perfect conditions to work together with colleagues to drive forward research into silicon carbide as a quantum-classical material platform.

A second area we are focusing on in our FAU Profile Center New Materials and Processes is fundamental research into molecular materials, where we are particularly interested in low dimensional systems. Here we are working together very successfully with colleagues from Chemistry.

Our latest baby is currently evolving into a new megatrend: modern research data management. At our Chair of Applied Physics we are working in the national FAIRmat consortium to draw up concepts paving the way towards data-driven science in the area of solid state physics.

Let us take a look into our crystal ball: What do you wish for for the Chair and its research when the next generation celebrates another anniversary in another 75 years?

Heiko Weber: We are convinced that data-driven science will soon become extremely important and develop unheard of dynamics. We are extremely confident that even then solid state physics will still hold new questions and surprises for us.

And we would hope that even then people at the Chair are still carrying out research with the same joy and enthusiasm as today.

Further information

All information and the detailed program as well as information on how to register is available on the Chair’s website.