McAllister during his guided tour: „The LZH is outstanding“
Since it was founded in 1986, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has stood for qualified, interdisciplinary science with a high transfer potential. At the 25 year celebration on June 15th, the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony David McAllister emphasized the role of the institute as an important cornerstone in the field of laser technology research, both in Germany and internationally.
In his speech, McAllister underlined the role the LZH plays in the economic and scientific position of Lower Saxony. In the last 25 years, the institute has been an important factor in both establishing the laser as a key technology in Hannover and Lower Saxony, and in introducing laser technology to production and manufacturing. This has been an important contribution to saving money, and to increasing both efficiency and quality. Additionally, in the last 25 years, approximately 4000 workers and technicians, mainly coming from enterprises in Lower Saxony, have taken part in special training courses. The LZH has obtained third-party funding of 165 million Euros, thus bringing many times the amount of state subsidies back to Lower Saxony.
During his tour through the institute, the Prime Minister could be convinced of the research taking place at the LZH. Both a laser for searching for life on Mars in the EXOMARS mission in 2018, and the field of composite materials (CFRP) were shown, CFRP presently has a special position at the LZH, and McAllister said that not only is CFRP the "material of the future", but that Lower Saxony is at the top of the list in Europe, if not in the world. Intensive research is necessary to help CFRP become suitable for mass production. By consequently focussing on the research capacities linked with CFRP and laser technology, a new success chapter could open for the LZH, which the state government would certainly support.
The success of the LZH started 25 years ago with the three visionary founding fathers, and a courageous political decision. In his speech, LZH executive spokesman Professor Ertmer emphasized the special role of the founding fathers and honorary guests at the celebration, Professors Haferkamp, Tönshoff and Welling. At that time, they recognized the special chance being offered to transdisciplinary cooperation in the fields of physics and engineering. This was complemented by constantly good cooperation with the Ministry for Economics of Lower Saxony, which has supported and advised the LZH since 1986.
A high level of motivation in a zone free of boards and committees, a local to international network and a constant transfer of know-how into industry have contributed to the development of a "critical mass". 18 spin-offs with 500 employees, participation in 8 collaborative research centers and both the excellence clusters QUEST and REBIRTH speak for themselves. The key to the success of the LZH are, according to quantum optician Ertmer, not only the transdisciplinary approach, but also the outstanding academic environment in Hannover and Lower Saxony, highly motivated and competent staff, and excellent institute infrastructure and equipment, for which he thanked the government of Lower Saxony.
In the future, the main areas of research of the LZH will be in areas of global challenges such as energy, security, mobility, communications and life sciences. In his speech, Professor Karsten Danzmann emphasized the fact that basic research is the first step, followed by scientific applications, and finally by know-how transfer into industry. For the renowned expert in the field of gravitational wave detection, and the director of the Hannoverian Max-Plack-Institute for Gravitional Physics, the question is not whether basic research or application-based research is the right way. The gravitational wave expert gave insights into fundamental research work, and provided information on laser-based, high-tech measurement equipment, as well as on the potential of using these scientific results for climate research.
About 300 guests from throughout the country were present at the LZH birthday celebration. Following the speeches and tours to ten current research projects at the institute, the celebration continued under the LZH motto: Success through an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas – spiced with jazz, good food and drinks.