Excellence from the research center

Jülich, September 9, 2019 - Dr. Doreen Niether, Dr. Felix Lüpke and Dr. Peter Schüffelgen are the winners of this year's Excellence Award of Forschungszentrum Jülich. Chairman of the Board of Directors Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt presented the award last Saturday during the graduation ceremony of the doctoral students. The Excellence Award is endowed with 5,000 euros each.

Gewinner Exzellenzpreis 2019
Winners of the Excellence Award 2019 (from left): Dr. Peter Schüffelgen, Dr. Felix Lüpke, Dr. Doreen Niether.
Forschungszentrum Jülich / Steinhausen

Since 2009, Forschungszentrum Jülich has been awarding the prize for an outstanding dissertation written in large part in Jülich and excellent achievements in the post-doctoral phase. This year's award winners conduct research in the fields of soft matter and fundamentals of nanoelectronics.

Before honoring the Excellence Award winners, Forschungszentrum Jülich bid farewell to a total of 50 doctoral students who completed their dissertations between July 2018 and August 2019 at the graduation ceremony - the "JuDocs Ceremony 2019". The majority of them earned their doctorates at RWTH Aachen University (25), followed by Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (6) and universities and colleges in Bonn (5), Bochum (4), Cologne (3), Dortmund (1) and Wuppertal (1). In 2018, a total of 563 doctoral students conducted research at Jülich institutes.

In his welcoming address, Chairman of the Board Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt reminded the graduates of the great responsibility of science for society. "It is an important task for you as scientists to use your knowledge and skills to ensure that our society continues to develop in a positive way - your contributions to technical as well as social innovations are needed, but so is an open and fact-based culture of discussion." The research center is aware of its responsibility for the region in the context of structural change and supports the transformation in the Rhenish mining area with its expertise in the fields of information, energy and bioeconomy.

In addition to the awarding of the Excellence Prize, the Research Center said goodbye to a total of 50 doctoral students who completed their dissertations between July 2018 and August 2019 at the graduation ceremony - the "JuDocs Ceremony 2019".
Forschungszentrum Jülich / Steinhausen

The 2019 award winners

Dr. Doreen Niether

After completing her Master's degree in physical chemistry at the FU Berlin, Dr. Doreen Niether completed her doctorate at the Institute for Complex Systems in the field of soft matter. In the latter, research is conducted into the behavior of synthetic and biological colloidal systems, i.e. particles or droplets in the nanometer or micrometer range that are finely distributed in a liquid medium. External influences, such as electric or magnetic fields, and interactions between the molecules, play a decisive role in the structure formation and dynamics of these mixtures.

The young scientist investigated the connection between thermophoresis, the movement of solutes in a temperature gradient, and the formation of hydrogen bonds. A deeper understanding of these fundamental physical relationships is an important factor in the study of biological systems. In her dissertation, for example, Doreen Niether succeeded in developing models for the origin of life and protein-ligand complex formation. In April 2019, she moved to the Jülich Institute for Energy and Climate Research, where she is researching the behavior of trace gases in the troposphere.

Video: Laudation by Prof. Jan K. G. Dhont, Director Institute of Complex Systems, Soft Matter Division

Dr. Felix Lüpke

For his doctoral thesis at the Peter Gruenberg Institute in Jülich, Dr. Felix Lüpke modified the technology of a multispike scanning microscope developed at Jülich. With it, he succeeded in deciphering electronic properties of charge transport on quantum materials at the nanoscale. The young scientist used the technique primarily for research on topological insulators. These are novel materials with a special electrical conductivity - materials that are needed, among other things, to build powerful Quantum Computers.

Felix Lüpke determined the influence of nanoscale defects on charge transport in topological insulators by measuring "potential maps" around these defects. Further measurements also allowed him to separate different charge transport channels in topological insulators. The results of his dissertation lay important foundations for future applications of topological insulators in Quantum Computers. After his time as a postdoc at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA), the scientist is currently conducting research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA on a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Video: Laudation by Prof. Stefan Tautz, Director Peter Grünberg Institute, Functional Nanostructures at Surfaces Division

Dr. Peter Schüffelgen

During his doctoral studies at the Peter Grünberg Institute for Semiconductor Nanoelectronics, physicist Dr. Peter Schüffelgen conducted research on the crystal growth of topological insulators - materials for future Quantum Computers. When cleverly combined with superconducting materials, so-called Majorana states are created at the interface. The researchers expect these to be less prone to errors, which has been a major problem in Quantum Computers to date.

When manufacturing such components, it is important that the interface is of high quality. To ensure this, the nanostructures must not be exposed to air during the manufacturing process. Peter Schüffelgen found a way in which superconducting and topological materials can be combined and independently structured under ultrahigh vacuum conditions. Transport measurements at very low temperatures on samples prepared in this way showed evidence of Majorana states.

In the meantime, the young scientist is building up his own research group at the research center. In the next few years, Schüffelgen and his team will work on providing the Majorana nanostructures produced under vacuum conditions with readout and control electronics in order to make the quantum materials accessible for application in topological quantum circuits.

Video: Laudation by Prof. Detlev Grützmacher, Director Peter Grünberg Institute, Semiconductor Nanoelectronics Division

Further information:

Institute of Complex Systems, Soft Matter Division (ICS-3)

Peter Grünberg Institute, Functional Nanostructures at Surfaces Division (PGI-3)

Peter Grünberg Institute, Semiconductor Nanoelectronics Division (PGI-9)

Press contact:

Dr. Regine Panknin, Press officer
Tel.: 02461 61-9054
E-Mail: r.panknin@fz-juelich.de

Please send inquiries about the 2020 Excellence Award to:

Sylvie Lemke
Corporate Communications, Events & Marketing
Tel.: 02461-61-8024
E-Mail: s.lemke@fz-juelich.de

Last Modified: 12.08.2022