ESO Staff Share Prestigious Award Celebrating Innovation in Laser Technology
12. september 2016
Seven ESO staff are amongst the group of individuals awarded third place in the prestigious Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis. The group receiving the award includes staff from the companies Toptica and MPB Communications, in addition to those from ESO. These researchers and developers worked together on the Laser Source of the Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LGSF), now operating on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). An important part of the laser technology involved was initially developed at ESO and then brought to industrial engineering levels by Toptica and MPB.
The advancement and acknowledgement of outstanding development and scientific work on the application or generation of laser light is one of the objectives of the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung. Since 2000 this prize, which the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung awards every two years, has recognised scientists and technicians who make exceptional advances in the field of laser technology. The ESO staff, both former and present, sharing in this award are: Domenico Bonaccini Calia; Yan Feng; Wolfgang Hackenberg; Ronald Holzlöhner; Steffan Lewis; Thomas Pfrommer and Luke Taylor.
The new laser source has been commissioned as part of the 4LGSF, a new subsystem of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) at the VLT. The 4LGSF projects four laser beams into the night sky, creating four artificial stars that the AOF uses to compensate for the effects of turbulence in the atmosphere. The "stars" appear because the laser beams transfer energy to sodium atoms in the atmosphere 90 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. The atoms fluoresce, releasing the energy and creating a patch of bright light, which appears to the telescope like a glowing star.
ESO is proud to recognise this award to its staff and the wider team they collaborated with. Their achievement was celebrated at an awards ceremony on 9 September 2016.
- The Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis
- The Berthold Leibinger Stiftung
- Toptica website
- MPBC website
- First light for the 4LGSF
- 2010 ESO Messenger article about laser development (pp. 12–19)
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