Experimental Physicist Marcus Ossiander Awarded START Prize 2022

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At the Institute of Experimental Physics at TU Graz, Marcus Ossiander wants to r

At the Institute of Experimental Physics at TU Graz, Marcus Ossiander wants to realise a microscope that can be used to measure extremely small and ultra-fast processes, such as how a photon is absorbed by an atom. Image source: FWF - Sabine Hoffmann

With the Austrian Science Fund’s (FWF) science prize endowed with 1.2 million euros, the researcher at TU Graz is designing new nano-optics with the aim of building a microscope that can measure ultra-short chemical reactions with extreme precision.

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Marcus Ossiander (born 1989 in Munich, Germany) wrote his doctoral thesis at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and obtained his PhD in ultrafast physics under Reinhard Kienberger at the TU Munich. He has been conducting research on meta-optics at Harvard University since 2020. He is carrying out the START project at the Institute of Experimental Physics at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), where he wants to build a microscope in the next few years of research that can be used to observe physical processes in the attosecond range. An attosecond is a trillionth of a second and "is to a second what a second is to the age of the universe", as Ossiander explains in the interview with the Austrian Science Fund , going on to say that this opens up new applications for attosecond physics: "We can use it to study solar cells, improve catalysis and other chemical reactions, or even analyse how fast digital communication can be in the first place."

Ein Interview mit START-Preisträger Marcus Ossiander findet sich in scilog - the magazine of the Austrian Science Fund FWF.

Nanostructures and ultraviolet light at the core of the solution

Marcus Ossiander wants to use nanostructures for this in the same way that they are used for virtual reality. These optics are similar in function to a photo lens, but are flat. The new technology is designed to focus particularly high-energy ultraviolet light. Other optics - conventional lenses, for example - cannot do this because extreme ultraviolet light is absorbed by almost all materials due to its short wavelength. The short wavelength in turn then makes it possible to observe the smallest electronic movements with time resolutions in the range of attoseconds.

This research area is anchored in the Field of Expertise " Advanced Materials Science ", one of the Five Fields of Expertise at TU Graz.


The START Prize is one of the most lucrative and recognized science prizes in Austria and is awarded once a year by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The prize is endowed with 800,000 to 1.2 million euros and is intended to give young top researchers the opportunity to plan their research with a high degree of financial security over the next six years.

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