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Drawn into the Fascinating World of Particles

Redirecting lightning or triggering a rainstorm: Quantum physicists have a vision in which they control a storm to prevent it from wreaking havoc. This vision is one that Jean-Pierre Wolf, Professor at the Institute of Biophotonics at the University of Geneva, may soon be able to bring to life. Watch the videos about two renowned quantum researchers to find out about the challenges, expectations and visions of their exceptional research projects.

Jean-Pierre Wolf uses an extremely high-energy laser to not only measure weather phenomena, but also to trigger targeted lightning and control its impact. If he succeeds, buildings, airplanes during landing and takeoff, and industrial plants could all be better protected against the effects of extreme weather. It might even be possible to save entire crop harvests. In the lab, Wolf and his team have already proven they can pull this off.

This is a development based on quantum physics. Quantum effects have been in use since the early 20th century and have led to market-shaping innovations such as semiconductor electronics and lasers. Quantum technologies enhance familiar techniques and open up whole new possibilities.

Tobias Kippenberg, Professor at the Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), uses quantum effects to link up rays of light with movement. His aim is to create high-precision sensors that are many times more precise than their predecessors. They can quantify physical parameters with previously unattainable accuracy. This could constitute a further breakthrough in medicine, by enabling brainwave measurements to a previously unattainable accuracy.

Tobias Kippenberg and Jean-Pierre Wolf have been studying the effects of quantum physics for years. They are conducting pivotal research in a bid to make use of the diverse, sometimes mysterious quantum phenomena for applications in areas such as medicine, the life sciences and sensors. Watch the videos to hear what the two winners of this year’s ZEISS Research Award had to say about the challenges, expectations and visions of their research projects.

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