German Future Prize for DFG-funded researchers

December 21, 2011

The research team working with Professor Karl Leo from the Dresden University of Technology was awarded the "German Future Prize - German President's Award for Technology and Innovation" (Zukunftspreis) on 14 December 2011 for the pioneering further development of organic semiconductors. In the presence of numerous distinguished guests from research policy and the scientific community, German President Christian Wulff presented the award, worth 250,000 euros, to Professor Karl Leo, Dr. Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth and Dr. Martin Pfeiffer. DFG President Professor Matthias Kleiner, who attended the award ceremony in Berlin, said: "The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and myself personally sincerely congratulate Professor Leo, a DFG Leibniz prizewinner, and the Dresden research team on this great success. From the perspective of the DFG, which intensively supported Karl Leo's work, the prize shows the groundbreaking potential of basic research - as well as for innovations and future-oriented technologies that take into account socio-political challenges, such as the change in energy policy."

The Dresden researchers were nominated for the German Future Prize by the DFG and the Leopoldina. In their search for future technologies, the team working with Professor Karl Leo focused on the high innovation potential of organic semiconductors. The researchers were able to produce tailor-made plastics with new, exceptional properties that can be used as thin, flexible and transparent foils in a wide range of products. They can be used, for example, for transistors, LEDs and solar cells and pave the way to innovative applications in lighting and photovoltaics.

The researchers are also competent in the fast and economical production of organic LEDs (OLED) - and, thus, in the transfer to applications. One key to achieving this: a better understanding of the aging process of the material. Thanks to the research, organic lights and light collectors will become more efficient and longer lasting. The researchers' vision includes large OLEDs that can cling to walls, ceilings and furniture like a second skin. In addition, the light collectors promise more productive energy generation and could thereby contribute to solving one of the most pressing challenges of the future.

The trio of researchers is embedded in an outstanding network for solar energy research and development in and around Dresden: Professor Karl Leo is the director of the Institute for Applied Photophysics at the Dresden University of Technology and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems. In 2002 he received the DFG's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and is currently coordinating, among other things, the DFG Priority Programme "Elementary Processes of Organic Photovoltaics". This research environment has produced six spin-off companies. The two co-recipients of the award work in two of these companies: Dr. Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth is the chief scientific officer at Novaled AG and Dr. Martin Pfeiffer is the chief technical officer at Heliatek GmbH.

The German Future Prize, which has been awarded annually since 1997, acknowledges an innovative research accomplishment and its marketable technological development. Past prizes have recognised LED technology, the MP3 audio format and hard-disk storage technology. The prize is among the most valuable and prestigious awards for applied research in Germany.
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Further Information

Media contact:


DFG Press and Public Relations Office, tel. 49-228-885-2443, presse@dfg.de

The article "Sonnige Aussichten mit organischen Solarzellen" (Sunny Prospects with Organic Solar Cells), which appeared in "SPEZIAL ENERGIE 2010" (ENERGY SPECIAL 2010) of the DFG magazine "forschung" (german research), describes the work of the Dresden researchers. It is available on the internet in German at: http://www.dfg.de/dfg_magazin/wissenschaft_oeffentlichkeit/forschung/index.jsp

Information on the German Future Prize is available at http://www.deutscher-zukunftspreis.de

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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