Press Releases

Thorium Nuclear Clock – the world's most accurate clock

Wiithin the “Thorium Nuclear Clock” project, a nuclear clock based on a transition in the atomic nucleus of the heavy thorium-229 will be developed. In this clock, the nucleus is to be excited by laser light.
© Christoph Düllmann, JGU Mainz.
Wiithin the “Thorium Nuclear Clock” project, a nuclear clock based on a transition in the atomic nucleus of the heavy thorium-229 will be developed. In this clock, the nucleus is to be excited by laser light.

The development of the world's most precise clock is the ambitious goal of the “Thorium Nuclear Clock” project, in which Fraunhofer-CAPS scientist Dr. Johannes Weitenberg is involved. Conventional atomic clocks on the effect of the characteristic frequency of radiation transitions in the electron shell. The Thorium Nuclear Clock, on the other hand, uses effects in the atomic nucleus.

The research project was selected by the European Research Council (ERC) for an ERC Synergy Grant and is financed with 13.8 million euros for a project duration of six years.

Prof. Thorsten Schumm from the Atominstitut at the TU Wien, Austria, will lead the project and work together with Ekkehard Peik (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig, Germany), Marianna Safronova (University of Delaware, USA) and Peter Thirolf (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany). Further team members are Adriana Pàlffy-Buß (Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Heidelberg, Germany) and Johannes Weitenberg (Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS, Aachen, Germany).

More flexible battery design with ultrafast laser ablation

Fast, gentle and reliable:  The Fraunhofer ILT has come up with a process tailor-made to ablate anode material from very thin copper foils at up to 1760 mm³/min. It uses a powerful USP laser to expose surfaces for electrical contacts.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Fast, gentle and reliable: The Fraunhofer ILT has come up with a process tailor-made to ablate anode material from very thin copper foils at up to 1760 mm³/min. It uses a powerful USP laser to expose surfaces for electrical contacts.

The ultrashort pulse (USP) laser has been known to shine whenever highly sensitive material needs to be machined quickly yet gently. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has investigated one such application that certainly looks to have a bright future: The Aachen-based researchers developed a quick, reliable and nondestructive method of ablating lithium-ion batteries’ anode material with an ultrashort pulsed laser beam. This ablation technique exposes electrical contact points called tabs.

 

Fraunhofer: What’s next?

Looking through the magnifying glass: Tiny holes drilled with an ultrafast laser in an aircraft wing of the industrial partner Sonaca.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany / Klaus D. Wolf.
Looking through the magnifying glass: Tiny holes drilled with an ultrafast laser in an aircraft wing of the industrial partner Sonaca.

In the 70th year of its history, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is ideally positioned for the challenges of the future, a strategy it also demonstrated at LASER World of PHOTONICS, the world's leading photonics trade fair in Munich. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, for example, presented state-of-the-art technology for quantum technologies, metallic 3D printing and electromobility.

 

Application offensive for ultrafast lasers in the kW range

The scaling of the multi-kW ultrafast fiber laser is based on the coherent combination of several individual beams.
© Fraunhofer IOF, Jena, Germany / Walter Oppel.
The scaling of the multi-kW ultrafast fiber laser is based on the coherent combination of several individual beams.

Experts from 13 different Fraunhofer institutes are working on the development of multi-kW ultrafast lasers and various applications in the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS. A user facility with application laboratories in Aachen and Jena is being created for this purpose, laboratories in which partners from industry and research can work with the new technology.

USP Lasers Conquer Macroprocessing

Dr. Arnold Gillner: The challenge is to get the photons to the workpiece.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Dr. Arnold Gillner: The challenge is to get the photons to the workpiece.

Ultrashort pulse (USP) lasers have become firmly established in science and micromachining. At this year's “UKP-Workshop: Ultrafast Laser Technology” in Aachen, a new trend has emerged: Macroprocessing. Since multi-100-watt USP lasers up into the kW range have become available, the industry is looking at them with great interest for large-area applications. For this purpose, the institute is developing the complete process chain right through to fully digitized processes.

Fraunhofer Develops New Generation of Lasers

Partners of the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS at the kick-off meeting on May 2, 2018 in Aachen.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany / M. Conrad-Franzen.
Partners of the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS at the kick-off meeting on May 2, 2018 in Aachen.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is launching a highly ambitious undertaking: the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS. The cluster aims to achieve international technological leadership in laser systems that reach maximum performance with ultrashort pulses (USP), as well as researching their potential applications, all in cooperation with Fraunhofer partners. The new systems are proposed to surpass all previous USP lasers by one order of magnitude in average laser power. At the same time, the partners are working on the required system technology as well as promising applications in industry and research.

AKL’18: Lasers Conquer Large-Scale Manufacturing

More than 660 attendees met at AKL’18 in Aachen, Germany.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany / Andreas Steindl.
More than 660 attendees met at AKL’18 in Aachen, Germany.

Visitors to this year’s AKL – International Laser Technology Congress in Aachen, Germany, had the unique chance to see where industrial laser technology stands today and where it will be tomorrow. The congress delivered the full picture of current technologies, from advanced laser sources and new process technologies to a wide range of applications such as Additive Manufacturing or even Quantum Sensing. To research such future topics, several projects have been started, and a whole new “I³ – Integrated Interdisciplinary Institute” has been inaugurated.