Interview with Prof. Matthias Kling

MPSP Fellow @ LMU Munich | Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

18. Juni 2020

The Fellows of the Max Planck School of Photonics work at the most renowned scientific institutions in Germany and are leaders in their respective research areas. But how are the supervisors of our MPSP students personally? We want to bring them closer to you and therefore asked Matthias Kling, professor for ultra-fast nanophysics at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, for an interview. Read here what has sparked his Passion for Science and what advice he would give future scientists:

What sparked your passion for photonics? Provocatively asked: Do you think photonics is the most important science in the world?

Prof. Kling: "My passion for the science of light started at very young age, when playing with the magnifying glass of my grandfather, which I used for focusing sunlight to burn a piece of paper. Since this initial spark, the passion for photonics has been growing. As an example, while early in my career our experiments have been relying mostly on commercial laser systems, we are now also developing and building laser systems. Photonics surely is a basis for today’s science in many fields, from quantum optics and precision measurements, to ultrafast science, and even medical science, to name just a few. Is it the most important science? While this is impossible and would be arrogant to claim, I am convinced that photonics is one of the most important sciences of the 21st century, because it will keep enabling research and development across many disciplines."

If you hadn't become a scientist, what would you have become?

Prof. Kling: "Maybe an actor? I had a passion also for acting, but a long time ago (during high school years). I have not thought about this anymore since ever I found my passion in being a scientist and doing research. I feel very lucky being able to do what I love."

Please give us a brief insight into your research: What are you currently working on with your team?

Prof. Kling: "We are focusing on high-average power laser development, ultrafast (non-linear) spectroscopy and attosecond science. As an example for our research, we identify viable routes to reaching the ultimate frontier in ultrafast (nano-)electronics, where tailoring the light wave’s electric field opens a path towards reaching petahertz switching frequencies. Using circuitry that is entirely based on propagating waves of light and electrons instead of resistive electrical currents opens a perspective to dramatically increase computation and telecommunication speeds. Such ground-breaking technology can pave the way towards compact artificial intelligence for androids, driverless automobiles, aircrafts, spacecrafts and other machines, and might even be used for controlling ultralight, high-speed interstellar probes for exploring planets outside our solar system."

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to young scientists who are just beginning their research careers?

Prof. Kling: "My strongest advice is: enjoy the ride! Learn as much as you can and find something that interests you so deeply that you cannot stop thinking about it. Actually, I have sometimes my best ideas when going on a run. There will be hard days, since science is about the unknown and not all ideas work out in the way first envisioned. A deep passion about your research helps to cope with this and find the route to success. Stay curious!"

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