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Outstanding new production process Bosch researchers honored with innovation award Award presented by the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung


· Award for research work into the use of laser light

· First place in a field of 33 international candidates

· Development work on the industrial use of new laser systems paves the way for more precise sensors, smaller components, and higher injection pressures

Stuttgart / Ditzingen – A group of researchers from Robert Bosch GmbH and its subsidiary Bosch Rexroth AG has been awarded the Innovationspreis of the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung. Competing in a field of 33 entries submitted by universities, institutions, and industry, Jens Koenig, Thorsten Bauer, Markus Willert, and Ulrich Graf won first prize with their study “Ultrashort Pulse Laser Technology: The Future of High-Precision Micromachining in Large-Scale Series Production.” At the award ceremony at the headquarters of the Trumpf Group in Ditzingen, Germany, the judging panel of renowned experts recognized the achievement of transferring scientific principles to industrial series production. First prize was awarded to the Bosch research team by Prof. Ursula Keller of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, a recognized expert in the field of ultrashort pulse laser technology. “Ultrashort pulse technology will revolutionize industrial micromachining. This has opened the door to high-precision manufacturing of even the very smallest components,” she said. Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch GmbH, said: “We are proud of the honor that has been granted to our group of researchers and are delighted we can provide our researchers and development engineers with the creative and challenging environment needed to promote such outstanding work.”

The Innovationspreis of the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung has been awarded every two years since the year 2000 to honor and promote the work of scientists and developers who are making groundbreaking advancements in the use of laser light. It is endowed with one of the largest prize funds of any international innovation award for laser technology. This year, four prizes were awarded with a total value of 40,000 euros. The panel of judges comprises high-profile figures and experts from science and industry who nominate the best candidates from all the entries and ideas received. The judges include Prof. Ursula Keller, Prof. Hubertus Christ, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Theodor Haensch, Prof. Helmut Huegel, Prof. Hans-Juergen Quadbeck-Seeger, Prof. Hans-Juergen Warnecke, Stephen Anderson, Prof. Hans-Peter Berlien, Prof. John Stuart Nelson, and Prof. Orazio Svelto. “We are thrilled that our new manufacturing technology and the associated production technology has been honored in this way by such an illustrious panel of experts,” explains Jens Koenig, spokesperson for the Bosch group of researchers.

New tool for Bosch production technology
The technology developed by the Bosch research group introduces a new laser tool into large-scale series production. It allows the very smallest of structures, much finer than a human hair, to be cut into virtually any material quickly and with ultra high precision. At Bosch, the new technologies are initially being applied first and foremost in the manufacture of sensors and diesel injection systems.

The special feature of this new tool is its ability to divide and compress the laser energy into the very tiniest segments of time. Lasting only a few picoseconds, each segment is so short that light travels only one millimeter in this time. However, during this unimaginably short space of time, several hundred megawatts of power are generated – similar to the output of a power plant. Any material exposed to a laser flash of this magnitude evaporates without first becoming hot or even melting. This enables ultra high precision machining without unwanted burrs or thermal side effects.

In its first application worldwide, this new tool using ultrashort laser pulses has been used in the production of emission sensors in the Bosch plant in Bamberg since 2007. The sensors are made of a special ceramic material and measure emission levels even more quickly and accurately than has hitherto been the case. As a result, the engine management system can be used to reduce harmful emissions from the vehicle still further.

Bosch is currently introducing this machining technology based on ultrashort laser pulses into the manufacture of common-rail injectors for cutting-edge diesel injection systems. This enables the manufacture of the tiniest microchannels that, despite injection pressures of up to 2,000 bar, ensure the system as a whole remains tight. This technology creates even more reliable, efficient, and eco-friendly injection systems.

Innovation award honors laser light applications
In 2008, the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung presented a total of four awards. Richard Sandstrom and Bill Partlo (both of the U.S.) took second place for their work on advanced microlithography. Two applications tied for third place, one prize going to Cary Gunn (U.S.) for work on silicon photonics and the other to Juergen Czarske, Lars Buettner, and Thorsten Pfister of the Technical University Dresden for the development of a laser Doppler distance sensor.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology, some 271,000 associates generated sales of 46.3 billion euros in fiscal 2007. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its more than 300 subsidiaries and regional companies in roughly 50 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Each year, Bosch spends more than 3 billion euros for research and development, and applies for over 3,000 patents worldwide. The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.”

The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

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