Physicist Lisa Torlina awarded Marthe Vogt Prize

The Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. awards this year's Marthe Vogt Prize to Dr. Ing. Lisa Torlina for her dissertation in the field of quantum mechanics. As part of her work at the Max Born Institute, Lisa Torlina has answered open questions from basic physical research. For this purpose, she developed a theoretical framework with which interactions of electrons and light pulses can be interpreted. Since 2001, the Marthe Vogt Prize has been awarded to young female scientists in scientific research fields who are being worked on by the institutes of the research network. The dissertation must have been written at a research institution in Berlin or Brandenburg. The prize is endowed with 3,000 euros.

"I always wanted to understand how the world works," says Lisa Torlina herself about her research. Therefore, she investigates how atoms and molecules interact with light pulses and which dynamics of the electrons are triggered by the light impulses - big open questions in basic physics research. "With her doctoral thesis, she has made groundbreaking contributions to problems that have been discussed for decades," says her doctoral mother Prof. Dr. med. Olga Smirnova from the MBI. She supervised the doctoral student during her PhD at the Leibniz Graduate School "Dynamics in New Light". From 2011 to 2015, the school under the leadership of the MBI supported doctoral candidates working on ultrashort and ultrafast light impulses.

Groundbreaking findings in basic research

When the young scientist begins to talk about electrons and their way through potential barriers, it quickly becomes clear that she has turned her passion into a profession. Even in high school in Australia, where she grew up, she was fascinated by the natural sciences: "If you follow the rules in mathematics, you always get the right result, no matter how improbable this result seemed to be in the beginning," says Lisa Torlina. In their current field of research, their research subjects often do not do what they would expect. If you throw a ball against the wall, it jumps back. On the other hand, if electrons encounter an obstacle, they may break it - physicists call this "tunneling" through a barrier. These movements are made visible by sending light pulses to electrons, which then reflect them, similar to a photo. The electrons move so fast that this process is measured in billionths of billionths of a second, known as attoseconds. In the theory department of the MBI, the scientists have theoretically modeled the process.

To interpret such observations then it needs a very good theoretical description. This has delivered Lisa Torlina's framework: her "Analytical R-Matrix Approach (ARM)" allows to distinguish the effects of the interaction of the electrons with the light and with the atomic nucleus. The observation shows, for example, that no time passes when an electron with the help of light breaks through the potential barrier that exists due to the attractive force of the positive nucleus. To gain these insights, Lisa Torlina spent a lot of time at the desk: only after months of calculations, the results of which raised new problems, was she able to test her theory on specific cases. "But that's the way research works," the scientist recalls. Today, she gets far better results with her ARM tool than with previously established procedures.

After completing her dissertation, Lisa Torlina has started a post-doctoral position at the MBI - until today, her work at the MBI has resulted in eight publications in renowned scientific journals. Lisa Torlina speaks at international conferences and has now won the Marthe Vogt Prize, a great honor for the physicist. "Without a doubt, Lisa Torlina is one of the most talented of the doctoral students I have ever worked with together," says a delighted doctor's mother about the success of the young junior scientist. (Text: Alessa Wendland)

Presentation of the Marthe Vogt Prize The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday, November 8, at 7 pm in the Haus der Leibniz Association, Chausseestraße 111, in Berlin. It is part of the Berlin Science Week 2017. The event is open to anyone interested. Admission is free. If interested, please register your participation with us - by e-mail at or by phone at 030 / 6392-3339.