Allen Caldwell is new executive director at the Max Planck Semiconductor Laboratory


Physicist Allen Caldwell is the new Managing Director at the Max Planck Society's Semiconductor Laboratory (HLL), effective immediately. In this role, he works closely with Jelena Ninkovic, who is the head of the HLL and responsible for operation of the lab. Allen Caldwell succeeds Siegfried Bethke, now director emeritus, who headed the HLL from 2013 until the end of 2022.

The HLL emerged from a collaboration between the Max Planck Institutes for Physics (MPP) and for Extraterrestrial Physics with the goal of producing highly specific sensors for experiments in astrophysics and particle physics. Since 2013, the HLL has been a central facility of the Max Planck Society; administration remains with the MPP.

MPP Director Allen Caldwell took up his new post on January 1, 2023. He sees his primary task as aligning the HLL strategically and in terms of personnel to meet future demands of ambitious research projects. An important role will be played by partnership with the Munich Quantum Valley, a research alliance for the development and establishment of competitive quantum computers in Bavaria.

Relocation to Garching to begin in 2023

The relocation to the Garching Research Center, planned for the end of 2023, will entail further management tasks. High-quality and sensitive equipment is located at the HLL and its transport and commissioning will require a considerable amount of time.

The new location opens a new chapter for the HLL, as Allen Caldwell explains: "The new building has significantly more laboratory space than the current location and the technical plants meet the latest standards, allowing us to expand into completely new areas for research into innovative technologies based on different materials." In addition to developing sensors for ongoing and future projects, the HLL will perform research in sensor technologies for future fields of application independently of projects.

Highly specific sensors for physics experiments

The HLL develops and manufactures one-of-a-kind silicon modules that are used in sensors of physics experiments - for example, in the Belle II experiment in Japan, where unique technology developed by the HLL allowed for the deployment of an extremely thin pixel detector. This is being used to research the antimatter puzzle of the universe. In a current project, the HLL is building modules to detect sterile neutrinos in the KATRIN experiment at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

"The HLL has a fantastic record of developing sensors for groundbreaking research projects," says Allen Caldwell. "This achievement is the result of outstanding efforts by the staff. I look forward to helping the HLL continue this successful journey and to working with Jelena Ninkovic, with whom I have collaborated closely with in the past, as well as to a strong partnership with the central administration of the MPG."

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