Heisenberg-Professorship for Strong-Field Nanophysics

Our Research Mission

How do light and matter interact? Finding the answer to this question by means of a firm microscopic understanding of the relevant physics is the central goal of our research. The Heisenberg-Professorship "Strong-Field Nanophysics" focuses on ultrafast and highly nonlinear light-induced processes in finite systems. Our main research topics are:

  • Strong-Field Physics of Finite Many-Particle-Systems
  • Attosecond Nanophotonics
  • Ultrafast X-ray Imaging​​​​​​​

Both intense light fields with precisely adjustable field waveform and ultrashort, intense X-ray pulses open up unprecedented avenues for controlling and imaging complex light-induced processes. We strive to understand how the waveform of light pulses can be used to control collective electronic dynamics on the time scale of a single optical cycle, when correlation effects influence the dynamics of matter, and in which case quantum and classical dynamics dominate. In this context, we are particularly interested in how the propagation of electromagnetic fields influences these processes. Our work is driven by the goal to decipher the leading response processes as a function of laser frequency from the infrared to the X-ray range and to pave the way towards attosecond and nanometer-resolved single-shot imaging with X-ray light. To meet these challenges, we are developing many-body simulation techniques in order to “zoom into” the strong field nanophysics of nanoparticles, nanoplasmas and nanostructured solids.

With kind regards,
Prof. Thomas Fennel




Review: Strong-field physics with nanospheres

Review on strong-field physics with nanospheres published in Advances in Physics: X.


Few-femtosecond resolved imaging of laser-driven nanoplasma expansion

Study on the few-femtosecond resolved imaging of laser-driven nanoplasma expansion published in New Journal of Physics.


Jana Mütze joins the team

We cordially welcome team assistant Jana Mütze as a new SNP group member!  


Collaborative Research Center 1477 LiMatI started

At its meeting on November 24, 2021, the German Research Foundation (DFG) approved the establishment of the new Collaborative Research Center 1477 LiMatI (Light-Matter Interactions at Interfaces) at the University of Rostock.

Prof. Thomas Fennel


Prof. Fennel takes over lead of the DPGs atomic physics division

The new chairman of the atomic physics division within section SAMOP of the German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, DPG) was elected in the general assembly on 23.09.2021. Prof. Thomas Fennel, previously assistant chairman, takes over the lead from Prof. Gerhard Paulus (Jena). New assistant is Prof. Matthias Wollenhaupt (Universität Oldenburg).


Onset of charge interaction in strong-field photoemission from nanometric needle tips

Study on the onset of charge interaction in strong-field photoemission from nanometric needle tips published in Nanophotonics.


We thank Cathleen Lawrenz from the bottom of our hearts

Cathleen Lawrenz has accompanied the Starkfeld nanophysicists as team assistant since April 1, 2020 with energy, creativity and heart and has set important impulses in the administration of the group and the organization of research and teaching. We would have liked to keep you with us, but we understand your decision to go your own professional way now. We wish you success, courage and a lot of strength to help people who need you!

With kind regards from the bottom of our hearts,
Your SNP Team.


Benjamin Liewehr received teaching award

Benjamin Liewehr was honored with a teaching award of the faculty of mathematics and natural sciences for the winter semester 2020/2021.  

The prize rewards excellent performance in teaching and is presented by the Dean of the MNF Prof. Dr. Klaus Neymeyr and the Dean of Studies Prof. Dr. Wolfram Seidel.




Book chapter published

Our paper "Fundamentals and Mechanisms of Vacuum Photoionization" by Passig, Zimmermann and Fennel has now been published as a book chapter in the new Wiley book "Photoionization and Photo-Induced Processes in Mass Spectrometry: Fundamentals and Applications" by Zimmermann and Hanley (editors).



Jonas Apportin starts his promotional activities

Jonas Apportin successfully defended his master thesis on the topic "Propagation of ultrashort, highly focused laser pulses in nonlinear media using the FDTD method" and started now his doctoral work within the AG.

Congratulations and much success!


Article on ultrafast metallization of glas nanospheres published

How fast can a transparent solid be transformed into a metal through illumination with intense light? In a current collaboration of the SNP team and an international group of scientists, this question has now been answered for glas nanospheres. The study, which has just been published in ACS Photonics, describes the experimental observation of this process along with the theoretical analysis of the underlying physics. 


Elisabeth Anne Herzig successfully completed her bachelor's thesis

Elisabeth Anne Herzig has successfully completed her bachelor's thesis with the title "Modelling and analysis of the effect of electron scattering in the attosecond streaking on solids". With this work she has addressed a highly topical research subject of the group already in her bachelor project, which she completed with grade 1.0.



Paul Tümmler has started his doctoral studies

With the colloquium held on 30.09.2020 Paul Tümmler has successfully completed his master's project with the title "Approximate description of single shot X-ray scattering from free nanoparticles including multiple scattering". On 1.10.2020 he has started the work on his doctoral thesis within the EU-financed project NEISS in the framework of a cooperation of the institutes chemistry and physics.



XFEL Annual Report with preliminary results from the SQS Instrument now available

The XFEL Annual Report 2019 with preliminary results of scattering experiments on superfluid helium droplets has been published. The studies were carried out at the SQS instrument of XFEL with participation of the group Strong-Field Nanophysics.

link to original publication (see page 20)


Quantum coherent diffractive imaging

Study on diffractive imaging of quatum coherent electron dynamics published in J. Phys. Photonics.


Cathleen Lawrenz joins the team

We cordially welcome team assistant Cathleen Lawrenz as a new SNP group member!  


2nd phase of Heisenberg-Professorship approved

The German Science Foundation (DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) has approved the second funding period of the Heisenberg-Professorship "Strong-Field Nanophysics" for the group of Prof. Thomas Fennel.


Inaugural lecture by Prof. Thomas Fennel on February 6th 2020 at 5.00 p.m.

MNF invites you to attend the inaugural lecture by Prof. Thomas Fennel on February 6th 2020 at 5 pm.

Topic of this lecture: "Nonlinear electron dynamics in optical near-fields - perspectives for light-driven switches, high-precision material modification and single-shot holographic imaging in the nanoworld"

link to publication



B.Sc. Richard Altenkirch: Coherent X-ray Holography on isolated Nanoparticles

Richard Altenkirch, the year's best bachelor student, presents the results of his thesis during the certificate awarding ceremony in the Aula of the University of Rostock.


link to detailed notification


Honorary Doctorate for Professor Corkum

Professor Paul B. Corkum of the University of Ottawa received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Rostock on 4 July 2019. His groundbreaking works on the light-matter interaction on the attosecond time scale established attosecond physics as a new field of research and have decisively shaped it. 


Acceptance of the Heisenberg professorship

Professor Thomas Fennel has accepted the call for a Heisenberg professorship in "Strong-Field Nanophysics". He conducts research at the Institute of Physics at the University of Rostock in the field of ultrafast light-matter interactions. Within the scope of the professorship, supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), Thomas Fennel and his team are particularly concerned with clarification and demonstrating the effect of extremely short laser pulses of nanostructures.

link to publication