Research activities - Introduction
Semiconductor physics, being one of the largest branches of solid state physics, studies both the fundamental principles of nature and the complexity of its systems. Semiconductors reflect the enormous diversity in phenomena and complexity in nature more vividly than most other physical systems. Clearly, semiconductors form the heart of modern technology, as every chip and every laser in any high tech gadget is made out of them. What renders semiconductors really unique and fascinating, however, is their incredible richness in phenomena, and the enormous range of their physical parameters.
Where, do you think, can we study atoms in extreme conditions that naturally only occur in neutron stars? Where, do you believe, can we watch free quarks - a breakup of the fundamental electrical charge? In semiconductors! In fact, recently Horst Störmer was awarded the nobel prize for finding free fractional charges in a semiconductor called Galliumarsenide. The physical properties of semiconductors can be tailored and adjusted by so many orders of magnitude, its "building blocks" - the atoms - can be arranged one by one at will, so that they help us forming a whole new world in the lab - artificial atoms with the shape of a square box, artificial molecules a thousand times larger than natural ones so we can inspect their properties easily, long wires with just a single atom's diameter, nanosized machines that may perhaps travel our blood vessels one day, and so on and so on.
We at the Walter Schottky Institut use simple table top experiments as well as large and highly sophisticated equipment, rigorous mathematical theory and phenomenological theory, analytic formalism and computer simulation. All these approaches meet in semiconductor physics, frequently within a single doctoral thesis.
Research activities - Funding
The WSI is well funded by several national and international research agencies and industries and equipped with state of the art fabrication and characterization tools for semiconductors that put its laboratories at the forefront of international semiconductor research. A list of the most prominent funding partners is available here.
Research activities - Details
The research activity of the WSI thus covers a wide spectrum from basic physics in low-dimensional semiconductor structures to the development of novel or improved electronic and optoelectronic devices based on semiconductor heterostructures. The close collaboration between the different groups and the availability of various experimental techniques are the essential basis for the successful development of novel semiconductor devices. Close contacts with industrial partners, especially with Infineon Corporation (formerly Siemens) have also proven to be very fruitful and stimulating in picking up new ideas and in following new directions which may be relevant for future applications.
Apart from the extensive research activities, all groups are involved in teaching within their respective departments. Besides the usual teaching responsibilities in undergraduate and graduate courses, special emphasis is put on the education of diploma and doctoral students in the physics and technology of modern and future devices and of low-dimensional semiconductor structures.