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Pioneering patents Swiss physicist wins European Inventor Award for laser technology

Ursual Keller

Ursula Keller's inventions which have helped make ultra-fast lasers commonplace in industrial and medical applications


The European Patent Office (EPO) has presented Swiss physicist Ursula Keller with a European Inventor Award in the “Lifetime achievement” for her pioneering work on ultra-fast laser technology. 

"Ursula Kellerexternal link has dedicated her career to research and innovations that have charted new directions in laser technology and unlocked applications in a broad range of industries such as electronics and automotive manufacturing," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "Her work highlights Europe's role as a leader in ultra-fast laser research and implementation." 

She was presented the award on Thursday at a ceremony in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris.

During her 30-year career, Keller, currently head of the Institute for Quantum Electronics at Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich),external link has patented several inventions which have helped make ultra-fast lasers commonplace in industrial and medical applications.

+ Five reasons Switzerland is top in innovation

Her landmark achievements have included the semiconductor saturable absorber mirror (SESAM), the first practical method for creating ultra-fast pulses in solid-state lasers, as well as lasers used in consumer electronics and in quantum physics research. 

The SESAM principle is used in nearly all commercially available ultra-fast lasers for micromachining, materials processing and medical surgery.

Launched in 2006, the Inventor Award is Europe's most important innovation award.


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