Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Dekorsy

GUEST SPEAKER Plenary session 1

Prof. Dekorsy is heading the Institute of Technical Physics of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since July 2016. He is also affiliated as professor at Stuttgart University in the Faculty for Aerospace Engineering and Geodesy and a member of the Stuttgart Research Center of Photonic Engineering (SCoPE). His scientific interest lies in the development of new laser systems in the area of aerospace, security and defense, and the education of young academics in these fields. Dekorsy was born in Jülich, Germany, in 1965. He graduated in Physics at the RWTH Aachen in 1992. He received his Ph.D. from the RWTH Aachen in 1996 which was performed at the Institute of Semiconductor Electronics under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Heinrich Kurz. The subject of the Ph.D. was ultrafast processes in semiconductor quantum structures investigated by femtosecond lasers. A highlight of the thesis was the first observation of tunable electronic quantum coherence in semiconductor superlattices (Bloch oscillations) at room temperature. From 1997 until 2000 he was assistant professor (Oberingenieur) at the Institute of Semiconductor Electronics, where he headed research groups on laser development, time-resolved spectroscopy and self-organized formation of nanostructures. The discovery of a new process for the formation of selforganized nanostructures on large areas by ion-beam sputtering was awarded with the Bennigsen-Foerder Award of the state North-Rhine Westphalia in 2000. In 2001 he received the Gustav-Herz Award of the German Physical Society for the investigation of quantum coherence in semiconductors. In1999 he co-founded Gigaoptics GmbH. Gigaoptics (now Laser Quantum GmbH) provides femtosecond laser at GHz repetition rates which e.g. were employed in Prof. Theodor Hänsch’s Nobel price winning experiment on frequency combs.

From 2000 to 2004 Dekorsy was division head at the Helmholtz Research Center Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR). He headed the spectroscopy division within the Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research (Director Prof. Manfred Helm). Here he built up spectroscopy laboratories for the free-electron laser FELBE, performed work on electrical driven light emission from silicon dioxide, efficient large area Terahertz emitters, and quantum cascade lasers. The invention of a large area scalable Terahertz emitter (TERASED) was awarded with the technology award of the HZDR in 2006. From 2004 to 2016 Dekorsy was full professor the Konstanz University. He was deputy director of the Center of Applied Photonics (CAP). His group developed new laser sources and applications of these lasers in spectroscopy. He developed the method of high-speed asynchronous optical sampling (high-speed ASOPS) with coupled femtosecond lasers at GHz repetition rates, a time-domain analogue of dual-comb spectroscopy. A new class of large area Terahertz emitters based on the photo-Dember effect was invented. In cooperation with Trumpf Laser ultrafast thin-disk oscillators with high average power were realized based on the concept of an active multi-pass cell. Dekorsy was Dean of Studies (transformation of the Diploma system to Bachelors/Master system) and Dean. In 2011 he received the award of the University Council for the project “Schülerinnen forschen” which included organization of science camps at Lake Constance for girls aged 13-16. In 2016 he received the award of the Student Council Physics for excellent teaching.

Dekorsy is member of several program committees of international conferences and summer schools, among them CLEO-Europe, Laser Applications Conference (LAC), and Son et Lumiére. He co-authored more than 250 publications, holds 6 patents, and gave more than 50 invited talks at international conferences in the fields of laser technology, femtosecond spectroscopy and Terahertz science. Many publications are based on international cooperation with scientists from France, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, USA, South Korea, Canada, Russia, China, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan. He is member of scientific committees and review panels at the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf, DESY/XFEL Hamburg and the Leibniz Society. He is member of the professional societies DPG, DGaO, EOS, OSA (Senior Member Recognition 2013), DGLR, DWT and DHV. He is referee for Optica, Optics Letters, JOSA B, Applied Optics, Physical Review Letters, Physical Review B, Applied Physics Letter, Journal of Applied Physics, Applied Physics B, Nature, Science, Nature Photonics, Nature Materials and received the recognition as Outstanding Reviewer from the Optical Society of America in 2016.


Academic Education with Degree

  • 1986-1993 Physics, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany, Dipl. Phys.


Scientific Degrees

  • 1996 Dr. rer.nat., RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany (supervisor Prof. H. Kurz)


Further Career

  • 1997-2000 Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering Faculty, RWTH Aachen
  • 2000-2004 Department Head Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany
  • 2004-2016 Full Professor “Modern Optics and Photonics”, Physics Department, Konstanz University, Germany 
  • since 2016 Director Institute of Technical, German Aerospace Center, and Professor, Institute of Aerospace Thermodynamics, University of Stuttgart 


  • 2008-2019 Member of the Executive Board of the Collaborative Research Center and PI (SFB) 767 “Controlled Nanosystems: Interaction and Interfacing to the Macroscale”, Konstanz University 
  • 2008-2012 Dean of Studies, B.Sc. and M.Sc. Physics, University Konstanz
  • 2012-2016 Dean, Department of Physics, University Konstanz
  • since 2009 Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf
  • since 2019 Member, Laser Advisory Committee, DESY/XFEL Hamburg
  • since 2018 Member Reviewer Panel “Electronics, electrical engineering, semiconductor physics and photonics”, Swedish Research Council
  • since 2018 Editorial Board Applied Sciences, Section Optics and Laser

Awards and Recognitions

  • 1996 Borchers Medal of the RWTH Aachen
  • 2000 Research Fellow, Electrotechnical Laboratoy, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 2000 Bennigsen-Foerder Award, State of North-Rhine Westphalia
  • 2001 Gustav-Hertz Award, German Physical Society
  • 2006 Technology Award, Helmholtz Research Center Dresden-Rossendorf
  • 2020 Fellow of the Optical Society of America

Thomas Dekorsy authored more than 250 publications and holds 8 patents (h-index=44, ISI Web of Science). Co-Founder of company GigaOptics GmbH (now LaserQuantum GmbH).