Porträt Dr. Tim Langen

Rudolf Kaiser Prize for Tim Langen

February 20, 2020, Nr. 15

Physicist from the University of Stuttgart receives one of the highest endowed prizes for young scientists in the natural sciences

Dr. Tim Langen, research group leader at the University of Stuttgart, has been awarded the Rudolf Kaiser Prize 2019. The prize is among the most prestigious and highly endowed research awards for young researchers in Germany. It is awarded annually to a young experimental physicist with extraordinary scientific achievements. Dr. Langen receives the prize in recognition of his work on superfluidity and supersolidity of dipolar quantum gases, in particular the observation of a novel state of matter that combines the crystal order of a solid with the frictionless flow of a superfluid.

Usually, matter exists in three states - solid, liquid and gas. Dr. Tim Langen studies ensembles of atoms and molecules that are cooled down to near absolute zero at -273.15 degrees Celsius. At these low temperatures the effects of quantum physics can become important and other, more exotic states of matter can arise. For example, atoms can form a superfluid that can flow without any friction.

Starting from such a superfluid, Dr. Langen was able to create and study for the first time a novel and long-sought state of matter, the so-called supersolid. This state features both the crystalline structure of a solid and the frictionless flow of a superfluid – it is thus both solid and liquid at the same time. The possibility for matter to behave in such a counterintuitive way was theoretically conjectured more than 60 years ago, but, so far, an experimental confirmation had proven challenging. In the experiments in Stuttgart, the observation of the supersolid has been made possible by studying dipolar dysprosium atoms, which behave like tiny magnets.

In further experiments, Dr. Langen focuses on cold dipolar molecules - more complex quantum objects made up of several atoms. In these systems, supersolids and also many other novel states of matter are expected to form. Such cold molecules could also facilitate particularly precise tests of fundamental physical laws. In this way, knowledge about the building blocks of the quantum world could be obtained using a tabletop experiment, an effort that would otherwise require large-scale particle accelerators.

“Dr. Langen is a highly innovative experimental physicist, who is very successful in addressing challenging research questions. The award is thus very well deserved”, congratulates Prof. Dr. Tilman Pfau, director of the 5th Institute of Physics and laureate of the Rudolf Kaiser Prize in 1998. “I am honored that my work is recognized with such a prestigious award”, says Dr. Langen. He particularly emphasizes the ideal environment for young scientists and the important contributions of his colleagues at the 5th Institute of Physics at the University of Stuttgart.

Dr. Tim Langen studied physics in Mainz, Marseille, Paris and Vienna. Already during his PhD he made important contributions to experimental quantum physics and received several international awards for his work. Subsequently, he was awarded a fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to work at JILA (Boulder, USA). Since 2017, he is leading a research group at the University of Stuttgart.

The Rudolf-Kaiser Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young scientists in Germany and endowed with a prize money of 35,000 €. It is awarded to a young scientist in experimental physics for outstanding scientific achievements. Many of the former laureates of the Rudolf-Kaiser Prize are recognized today as world-wide leaders in their respective fields.


Expert Contact:

Dr. Tim Langen, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Physics (5) Phone +49-711-685-60149, E-Mail

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