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Minister Thümler ehrt Professor Dr. Herbert Welling mit dem Großen Verdienstkreuz

Minister Thümler honours Professor Dr Herbert Welling with the Grand Cross of Merit

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Lower Saxony's Minister of Science and Culture, Björn Thümler, awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Lower Saxony to the former Director of the Institute of Quantum Optics at Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) and founder of the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), Prof. Dr. Herbert Welling (above), on August 31, 2019.

"Prof. Dr Welling has developed laser physics into a lighthouse in Hanover and has pushed the development of Hanover as a 'laser city' with great dedication into old age. It is thanks to him that Hannover today enjoys a high international reputation as a laser research location. I am delighted that we are honouring this outstanding commitment to physics and the interests of Lower Saxony today with the Grand Cross of Merit," said Minister Thümler. He presented the award during a ceremony at a dinner held on the eve of the physicist's 90th birthday at the Lichthof of the University of Hanover. According to press information released by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture.

Prof. Dr Welling was Director of the Institute of Quantum Optics at the former TU Hannover until 1998 and expanded the facility into a renowned centre for laser research. In the early 1970s, he and his team developed lasers for medical applications. Together with the surgeon Rudolf Pichlmayr from the Hannover Medical School, for example, he built a "blood-dried" laser scalpel with which Pichlmayr achieved the first partial liver transplant. As co-founder of the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), Prof. Dr Welling brought laser research into application. Numerous companies were spun off, and a high economic innovation potential arose for Hannover.

Prof. Dr Welling was also committed to bringing the Geo 600 gravitational wave observatory to Hanover. With this system, the gravitational waves postulated by Albert Einstein could now be measured. Geo 600, in turn, forms the basis for today's Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and the "Quest" Cluster of Excellence. Many outstanding physicists have started their careers in the "Welling Laser Family", including the current Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Prof. Karsten Danzmann.

Danzmann is continuing the successful work and ensured that Hannover as a science location is further strengthened with the acquisition of the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Frontiers last year. As the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture stated in its press release. The Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD Cluster also relies on the use of laser technology. Prof. Danzmann is a member of the two PhoenixD working groups S1 - Macro Optical Systems and F1 - Precision Metrology.

Even today, Prof. Dr Welling follows current research activities with great attention. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, the Institute of Gravitational Physics and the Institute of Quantum Optics organized a Helmholtz Symposium entitled "A Life for the Laser" at Herrenhausen Castle on September 1, 2019.