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„Wichtige Stufe auf der akademischen Karriereleiter“

German Chemical Society honours Dr. Jannika Lauth

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Dr. Jannika Lauth receives the ADUC award for excellent young scientists from the Working Group of German University Professors of Chemistry and the German Chemical Society (GDCh) for establishing her own field of research at LUH.

Her first contact with 2D semiconductors was "rather involuntary": Jannika Lauth wanted to depict round particles for her doctoral thesis, but flat crystals emerged instead. In the meantime, the scientist heads a junior research group at the Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry at Leibniz Universität Hannover and has established an independent research topic with her work on 2D semiconductors.

For this, she has now received the ADUC Prize, which is endowed with 5,000 euros. "The ADUC prize means a crucial step on the academic career ladder for me," says Lauth and explains: "It is one of the most important young scientists' prizes of the Working Group of German University Professors of Chemistry (AG Deutscher Universitätsprofessoren für Chemie) and the GDCh - German Chemical Society (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker). For me, it means that my group's research is noticed and appreciated by the community."

Lauth returned to the flat 2D crystals in her postdoc because they have physical and chemical properties that cannot be produced with other nanomaterials. "For example, they are promising for luminescent applications, which you can now even buy in very colourfast televisions, and can also be used for lasers," says Lauth.

As a postdoc, she moved from physical chemistry at the University of Hamburg to applied physics at TU Delft, where she worked on ultrafast spectroscopic laser methods for characterising 2D semiconductors. "That laid the foundation for my own field of research: On the one hand, as a chemist, I can produce and adapt materials that are great for optoelectronic applications, and on the other hand, I can characterise them in detail using physical methods to improve their performance synthetically," says Lauth.

Interdisciplinary research in the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD

She subsequently moved to LUH because of the "great research opportunities" and the personal contact with Prof. Dr. Nadja Bigall from the Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry. Bigall is a Principal Investigator of the M1 - Materials working group in the PhoenixD Cluster of Excellence.

Professor Bigall drew Lauth's attention to the opportunity to set up a junior research group through LUH's Caroline Herschel Programme within the Phoenix D Cluster of Excellence. "I have now been working at LUH since January 2019, and the group currently comprises two PhD students, soon to be one Master's student and two Bachelor's students," says Lauth. "We benefit greatly from the great interdisciplinarity of Phoenix D. For example, our materials have already been incorporated into different matrices and will hopefully soon find their way into a demonstrator."

Goals for research and career

As part of Phoenix D, the team works on optically and electronically responsive 2D semiconductor materials that can conduct or radiate light very well. Here, scientists can generate a wide range of material properties with the help of physicochemical methods and adjust them after characterisation with ultra-short-time spectroscopic methods.

The materials produced in this way can be processed as material "inks" "so that they can hopefully be printed at some point," says Lauth, explaining one research goal. "In the long term, we are also interested in producing 2D semiconductor materials that, for example, do not contain any heavy metals, unlike the previous ones, while maintaining the same performance."

Lauth has goals not only for research but also for her professional career: "My next goal is to become a professor. I am currently working on an application for an ERC Starting Grant to make this a reality."