Experimental Semiconductor Physics

Simon Kahmann

Simon's story

I grew up in a rural area in the north west of Germany. West Germany, actually, as it was called back then. International people might have heard of Hermann the German – that’s the tribesman that vanquished the Romans in the battle of the Teutoburg Forest. To commemorate Hermann’s stopping the spread of a more developed civilization, the Germans errected a gigantic statue around where I lived. It is rather pretty.

Educationally, I first made a large tour through Germany before going abroad. I briefly studied in Marburg to become a high school teacher in physics and history, but abandoned that endeavour to get a B.Eng in Microtechnology in Zwickau. Having been exposed to cutting edge solar cell research at the Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden, I then went to study Nanotechnology as M.Sc in Erlangen – with a memorable Erasmus term in Linköping (Sweden). Ever since I have loved being around international people.

Coming from a working class family, I did not even know what a university really was when I finished school – let alone what doctors do if they don’t practice medicine. It has thus never really been my plan to get anywhere specific with my studies and I certainly never considered getting a doctorate.

I almost managed to go abroad for my doctorate. In the end, I did a super-exciting binational doctorate in Groningen (Netherlands) and Erlangen. That allowed me to have a foot in two research groups and it exposed me to a lof of different topics at the same time. It also awoke my calling to become a spectroscopist.

Travelling back and forth a lot was exciting and nice for my parents (because my home town lies in between those two cities), but it was also exhausting. I thus stayed on in Groningen for a first postdoc before moving over to Cambridge – just in time for Brexit to take effect and for a very long Covid lockdown. Great fun!

At the end of May 2023 was appointed assistant professor for Experimental Semiconductor Physics Chemnitz University of Technology, and I am currently transitioning my centre of mass from Cambridge back to Germany.

In the Lab

Originally, I was a solar cell device physicist. I spent my days between the glove box, the solar simulator, and the computer. I have later found my real love: optical spectroscopy. From mid-IR pump-probe experiments over ultrafast photoluminescence to non-resonant Raman scattering, I have enjoyed them all. More recently, I have implemented as much as I can into microscopy experiments. Time spent constructing and improving set-ups in the lab is something I really enjoy.
Of course, these experiments are just a means to an end, and I have used them to study a wide field of different materials relevant for energy reseach: organic semiconductors, colloidal nanocrystals, carbon nanotubes, halide perovskites, and more!

Also: solar cells still have a special place in my heart, but there are so many more interesting objects to: LEDs and transistors, for example. Or photonic structures... the world is your oyster.

I meant to become a rockstar; fortunately, I had science as plan B.

In the classroom

I enjoy learning as much as I enjoy teaching. Being constantly challenged mentally and discovering new possibilities to apply my knowledge are some of the aspects I love about scientific reseach. It doesn't matter whether I lecture in front of a class, give a seminar, present at a conference, or introduce somebody to an experiment - my aim is always to convey what sparks my personal interst in a topic, and how things work. Results are important, but learning how to get there is where excitement lies.

At Home

Privately, you might find me in an antique book shop or at the local record store - I love reading and spending the evening going through my vinyls. Other than that, it's long runs, healthy food, and the occasional game of chess.

Short CV

Honours and Achievements

2023 Jun.-Prof. Exp. Semiconductor Physics TU Chemnitz

2022 Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

2021 College Research Associate, Sidney Sussex

2021 DAAD Short Term Fellowship

2019 DFG Research Fellowship


2018 Doctorate Materials Science/Physics, University of Groningen & FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2013 M. Sc. Nanotechnology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2011 B. Eng. Microtechnology, WHZ Zwickau

2007 University Entrance Diploma, Marianne-Weber Gymnasium, Lemgo


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