The new centre, which will be part of TU Berlin from January 1st 2008, will receive total funding of €35 million from the National Science Foundation (DFG) over twelve years until 2020. €11 million is already in place for the initial four years.

"Our goals are novel applications and systems brought directly to market by start-ups of our institutes, transferring our scientific results into products," said Dieter Bimberg, also of TU Berlin, whose research group has pioneered the development of novel photonic devices over the last ten years. "High-brilliance high-power semiconductor lasers, powerful RGB laser projection systems, quantum cryptography and 100 Gbit/s Ethernet will be a particular focus."

Bringing talent back to Germany

As well as encouraging start-ups, the centre aims to promote the role of Germany and the Berlin area in worldwide photonics research. "This is a confirmation of our policy to bring outstanding young scientists back from the United States and combine them with our experienced Berlin researchers in new and powerful teams," commented Kurt Kuzler, the president of TU Berlin.

"Nowhere in Germany or Europe is a comparable centre with a similarly broad approach to this complex area," said Bimberg. "Only overseas, for example at Berkeley, Santa Barbara or Tokyo, are teams following similar coherent approaches."

Research will cover three complementary project areas: materials, models and devices. "We will work on the three most important material groups of compound semiconductors: GaAs, InP and GaN," said Bimberg. "This enables us to cooperate with the most important players in the industry, like Intel, Agilent, IBM, Toshiba, NEC, Osram Opto Semiconductors or Philips, just to mention a few."

An integrated graduate college will be created alongside the new centre, aiming to incorporate expertise from the centre's university and institute partners into the education of PhD students. Mentors from the institutions, visiting scientists, and incentives for publications and patents will be made available to students, and it is hoped that the school will attract young scientists to the Berlin and Magdeburg areas. "We will also actively pursue bringing more female scientists into physics and engineering," commented Kneissl.