Dr. Jascha Alexander Lau appointed Research Group Leader at the Fritz-Haber-Institut since January 2024

January 23, 2024

The Fritz-Haber-Institut of the Max Planck Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Jascha Alexander Lau has joined the Department of Molecular Physics as a research group leader. Dr. Lau, an accomplished chemist, has been recognized with the Otto Hahn Medal and Award for his exceptional contributions to the field of physical chemistry.

Education and Professional Experience

Dr. Lau's academic excellence is evident from his early days at the University of Göttingen, where he received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry, both with distinction. He went on to complete his doctoral studies in Chemistry summa cum laude at the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences under the supervision of Prof. Alec M. Wodtke. His doctoral thesis focused on the vibrational energy transfer between adsorbed CO molecules, a topic he explored using infrared fluorescence spectroscopy.

Following his doctorate, Dr. Lau engaged in postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, with Prof. Daniel M. Neumark. His work during this period, supported by the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, involved high-resolution photoelectron spectroscopy of vibrationally excited anions.

Otto Hahn Medal and Award

In 2022, Dr. Lau was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal by the Max Planck Society, an honor bestowed annually since 1978 to young researchers for outstanding scientific achievements, primarily related to their doctoral work. The Medal includes a prize of €7,500, intended to encourage the pursuit of a university or research career.

Additionally, Dr. Lau received the Otto Hahn Award, which is given to select recipients of the Otto Hahn Medal. This award provides a long-term research residency abroad and the subsequent opportunity to establish a research group at a Max Planck Institute in Germany. The Otto Hahn Award is designed to facilitate a long-term scientific career within the country.

Research Focus

Dr. Lau's research group at the Fritz-Haber-Institut will concentrate on designing experiments to study the spontaneous emission of light from charged molecules following laser excitation. The group aims to overcome the limitations of current experimental methods by developing techniques for fluorescence measurements on extended timescales with quantum state resolution. This research is expected to enhance our molecular understanding of the role of light emission in the formation and detection of molecules in the universe.

The Fritz-Haber-Institut welcomes Dr. Lau and looks forward to the advancements his research will bring to the field of molecular physics.


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