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Recognition for Work on Interaction of Light with Micro- and Nanomechanical Systems

Professor Tobias J. Kippenberg from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne to Receive the 2015 Klung Wilhelmy Science Award

№ 327/2015 from Oct 23, 2015

The physicist Prof. Dr. Tobias J. Kippenberg, a scientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, will receive this year’s Klung Wilhelmy Science Award for his pioneering work on the interaction of light with micro- and nanomechanical systems. Kippenberg heads the Laboratoire de Photonique et de Mesure Quantique at EPFL. The award and prize money of 75,000 euros will be presented in a ceremony at Freie Universität on Thursday, November 19, 2015, in the Henry Ford Building. The award ceremony is public, and there is no charge for admission, but advance registration is requested. The laudatory speech will be given by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Zwerger from Technische Universität München. The keynote lecture “Perspektiven der Wissenschaft zwischen Einheit und Globalisierung” will be given (in German) by the former Saxon State Minister Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim.

Tobias J. Kippenberg, who was born in 1976, has been a full professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Lausanne, EPFL) since 2013. He was appointed as an assistant professor at EPFL in 2008. Prior to joining EPFL, Kippenberg led an independent junior research group in the department of Theodor W. Hänsch at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching. Kippenberg earned his doctorate in 2004 at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, USA), and in 2009 he completed the habilitation process in physics at LMU Munich. Kippenberg has received numerous awards for his research, including the National Latsis Prize, one of Switzerland's most prestigious scientific awards, and the Helmholtz Prize for Metrology from the German Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). Kippenberg conducts research on the interaction of light and micro- and nanoscale mechanical systems (so-called optical microcavities) and their behavior near absolute zero, which is minus 273.15 degrees Celsius. In his research Kippenberg aims to cool the smallest micro-mechanical systems with laser light and to achieve highly sensitive measurements of the smallest mechanical movements whose sensitivity is sufficient to observe even quantum-mechanical behavior in macroscopic systems. His experiments utilize the so-called radiation pressure – the force exerted by laser light.

The Klung Wilhelmy Science Award is presented annually to an outstanding younger German scientist. In alternating years it goes to a chemist or a physicist respectively. The award ceremony is held in cooperation between the Otto Klung Foundation and Freie Universität Berlin. Five of the previous winners later went on to win a Nobel Prize – physicists Theodor W. Hänsch, Gerd K. Binnig, Horst L. Störme, and Johann Georg Bednorz and the chemist Hartmut Michel. Other winners were later honored with various major national and international awards.

Further Information

Time and Location

  • Thursday, November 19, 2015, 5 p.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Henry Ford Building, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3)

Media Interviews

On the day of the award ceremony, there will be time for representatives of the media to interview Professor Kippenberg between 3 and 4 p.m. If you are interested, please send an email to

Further Information

Office of News and Public Affairs, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73180, Email:

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