University of Bayreuth, Press release no. 027/2024 from 04/03/2024

German Physics Championships: Bronze medal for students from the SFZ at the University of Bayreuth

A team of two students from the TAO Student Research Centre (SFZ) at the University of Bayreuth has won the bronze medal at the German Young Physicists' Tournament (GYPT). Niklas Brütting, Mara Forster and Viktoria Stülpnagel from Gymnasium Fränkische Schweiz in Ebermannstadt impressed the jury with their research projects. They were supervised by physics teacher Matthias Troiber in Ebermannstadt and the team led by Prof Dr Walter Zimmermann from the SFZ at the University of Bayreuth. The final round of the competition took place on 2 and 3 March 2024 at the Physics Centre of the German Physical Society (DPG) in Bad Honnef, where leading international scientists usually meet for conferences. The gold medal was won by a team from Lörrach.

"The German Physics Championship GYPT is similar to an international science conference. The pupils present their research results in English. They then have to answer critical questions from the competition and a high-calibre jury, also in English. Since 2018, students from the Bayreuth SFZ have made it into the medal ranks every year," says Prof. Dr Walter Zimmermann, Coordinator of the Student Research Centre at the University of Bayreuth, which is part of the TechnologieAllianzOberfranken (TAO).

from left: Niklas Brütting, Viktoria Stülpnagel Mara Forster 

The Vice President of the German Physical Society (DPG), Dr Lutz Schröter, was very impressed by the research results and their presentations. He added that he was still miles away from such enormous achievements at that age. He honoured the winning teams with medals, certificates and science books.

The next goal for a selection of the top German students is the International Young Physicists' Tournament (IYPT) in Budapest in July 2024. The five-member national team from Germany will be put together at the end of March following a workshop in Ulm. One of the twelve workshop participants is Niklas Brütting from the SFZ in Bayreuth, who qualified for the final selection in Ulm during his first participation in the GYPT. "The SFZ at the University of Bayreuth is the only student research centre in Germany from which members have been nominated for the German national team in uninterrupted succession since 2014," says Zimmermann, adding: "Winning a medal this year is also the reward for the promotion of young talent at the SFZ Bayreuth with the support of the Ebermannstadt school."

The members of the Bayreuth training team Berin and Tarek Becic, Frederik Gareis and Sebastian Friedl, were previously successful in national and international physics competitions themselves. "With their experience, they were also able to prepare and motivate this year's competition participants excellently."

"By far the most important reason for taking part in the GYPT is the students' desire to meet up with other young people who are equally enthusiastic about research, to spend time together, such as in the evening bowling, and to compete with each other. This basic attitude is a very good basis for the future generation of researchers, who cannot be encouraged enough. Future research success in our country depends on this ambitious young generation," emphasises Zimmermann. In this context, the Bayreuth physicist refers to the high-calibre, internationally renowned talent support provided by the German Physical Society and the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation.

The research projects of the Bayreuth bronze team

Niklas Brütting investigated a magnetic gearbox. Each gear wheel has only three "teeth" or arms. These cogwheels are similar to the trendy "fidget spinner" toy. Niklas attached a magnet to the end of each of the three arms of a cogwheel. He mounted the cogwheels with their axes of rotation vertically on a wooden board. If he sets one of the non-overlapping cogwheels in rotation, the neighbouring cogwheels are set in rotation by the interaction of the magnetic fields.  Niklas very convincingly investigated, understood and explained the fascinating rotational movements that this leads to, e.g. as a function of the gear wheel spacing, both experimentally and by means of a computer simulation of the model of his experimental set-up.

Mara Forster has investigated the functioning of a so-called "quantum light dimmer", a light dimmer based on the principles of quantum physics. A beam of light is generated with a sodium vapour lamp and this is directed onto the flame of a Bunsen burner, where it passes through unaffected.  However, if table salt is added to the flame, the saline flame weakens the light beam and this dimmer effect can be controlled by a magnetic field acting on the flame.  Mara measured this dimmer phenomenon with an impressive experimental set-up and explained it very convincingly. Viktoria Stülpnagel built a solar cell, a so-called "Grätzel cell".  The focus here was on how the components of the Grätzel cell can be optimised so that as much electricity as possible is generated per incident amount of light. She impressively demonstrated how the electricity generated depends on the individual components of the cell with her systematic experiments and explained them convincingly on the basis of the molecular processes in the cell.

Prof. Dr. Walter Zimmermann

Prof. Dr. Walter Zimmermann

Coordinator of TAO High School students Research Centre SFZ
Department of Physics / Theoretical Physics
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-3181 or -3315
E-mail: walter.zimmermann@uni-bayreuth.de

Jennifer Opel

Jennifer Opel (on maternity/parental leave)Deputy Press & PR Manager

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5357
E-mail: jennifer.opel@uni-bayreuth.de