The death of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandner

The research association Berlin e.V. (FVB) mourns the laser physicist Prof. Dr. med. Wolfgang Sandner. He died on Saturday, December 5, unexpectedly at the age of 66. At the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI) Sandner was a man of almost the first hour on which he worked as one of three directors from 1993 to 2013.

For Prof. Marc Vrakking, CEO of the FVB and MBI Director, an outstanding scientist has gone far too early to pave the way for the development of European laser physics in the political arena. "Wolfgang Sandner was of the opinion that the necessary infrastructures for an Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) can only be established through a joint European effort," says Vrakking. "His death was completely unexpected for us - I met him two weeks ago, and he was very enthusiastic about his plans as General Director of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI)." In the middle of October, Sandner, as ELI Director-General, was able to witness the inauguration of the buildings in the research center ELI-Beamlines in Dolní Břežany in the Czech Republic.

Wolfgang Sandner studied physics at the University of Freiburg. He earned his doctorate there in 1979 in atomic physics and soon turned to laser physics. After professorships at the universities of Würzburg, Freiburg and Knoxville (Tennessee), he joined the MBI in 1993 and took over the physics professorship at the Technical University of Berlin the following year. During his time at MBI, Prof. Sandner did groundbreaking experiments on the quantum mechanical 3-body Coulomb problem in highly excited atoms and investigated systems in strong laser fields. He also worked on the design of UV and X-ray lasers that deliver ultra-short pulses of high intensity.

In order to advance European laser physics, he was involved from 2003 to 2013 as coordinator in the Laserlab Europe network, which brings together the 30 largest laser research institutions. From 2010 to 2012, Sandner was President of the German Physical Society. Since 2013, Sandner has been driving the development of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) as Director-General of the ELI-Delivery Consortium International Association. In ELI, the world's most intensive lasers are to be used. Research facilities are planned in the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary and an undisclosed fourth location.