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"Springboard for a career in science"

Forschungszentrum awards Excellence Prize and bid farewell to doctoral researchers

Jülich, 26 June 2017 – Dr. Christoph Bäumer, Dr. Félix Urbain und Dr. Catalin Voiniciuc are the winners of this year’s Excellence Prize of Forschungszentrum Jülich. The three early-career scientists received the award, which is endowed with € 5,000, last Saturday during this year’s ceremony honouring Jülich’s successful doctoral researchers. Within the scope of the JuDocs 2017 event, Forschungszentrum Jülich said goodbye to 26 of its doctoral researchers who completed their theses in the previous year.

A total of 358 female and 608 male doctoral researchers were supervised at Jülich in 2016. 393 of them came from abroad – from 59 different countries. In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich, Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, emphasized the wide range of opportunities offered by Jülich: “Forschungszentrum Jülich is a springboard for a career in science. The most important aspect for early-career scientists and also experienced researchers it to remain open for new ideas and other people’s opinions.” Marquardt said that the three winners of the 2017 Excellence Prize had provided valuable new impetus with their ideas and thus made a decisive contribution to scientific progress.

Jülicher Doktorandinnen und Doktoranden bei der Verabschiedungsfeier 2017Verabschiedung der "JuDocs" 2017
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / Ralf-Uwe Limbach

The Excellence Prize has been awarded since 2009. The distinction is based on an outstanding doctoral thesis, the main parts of which were written at Jülich, combined with excellent achievements during the subsequent postdoc phase of up to two years.

Gruppenbild der Exzellenzpreisträger 2017Exzellente Nachwuchsforscher (von links): Dr. Christoph Bäumer, Dr. Félix Urbain und Dr. Catalin Voiniciuc
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / Ralf-Uwe Limbach

Winners of the 2017 Excellence Prize

Dr. Christoph Bäumer



With his research at Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute, the physicist made a major contribution to a better understanding of processes in memristive devices. These storage systems are regarded as extremely fast and energy-saving and they are non-volatile, which means the data are retained even when the power is turned off. These properties could enable them to revolutionize computer technology over the next few years. With the aid of electrodes made of graphene just one atom thick, Dr. Christoph Bäumer was able to make switching processes in the storage material visible under the photoemission microscope and to determine them precisely.

Laudatio: Prof. Claus Michael Schneider (Youtube)

Dr. Félix Urbain



As an environmentally friendly energy carrier, hydrogen could replace oil and natural gas in future. Together with other scientists at Jülich’s Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Photovoltaics, Dr. Félix Urbain developed a multistack solar cell made of silicon, which produces hydrogen directly from sunlight according to the principle of artificial photosynthesis and which can be manufactured relatively economically. A record total efficiency of 9.5 % significantly increased the efficiency of the relevant silicon-based modules. The physicist is now conducting research as the Instituto de Investigación en Energía de Cataluña (IREC) in Barcelona.

Laudatio: Dr. Friedhelm Finger (Youtube)

Dr. Catalin Voiniciuc



The industrial application of material from the cell walls of plants for sustainable biofuels could also reduce dependence on fossil fuels. These cell walls consist of cellulose and various polysaccharides. At Jülich’s Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Plant Sciences, Dr. Catalin Voiniciuc investigated how plants synthesize these carbohydrates with the example of the seed coat of Arabidopsis thaliana. The biologist identified enzymes required for the synthesis of certain polysaccharides. At the Institute of Plant Cell Biology and Biotechnology of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Voiniciuc studies other proteins necessary for constructing the cell wall.

Laudatio: Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel (Youtube)


Pictures of the event

More Information:

Peter Grünberg Institute, Electronic Materials (PGI-7)

Institute of Energy and Climate Research, Photovoltaics (IEK-5)

Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Plant Sciences (IBG-2)

Press contact:

Erhard Zeiss, Press officer
Tel. +49 2461 61-1841