Ralf Kohlhaas obtained his BSc. in Physics in 2008 at the University of Leipzig followed by a MSc. double degree in Optics at Imperial College London and the Institut d’Optique in Palaiseau in 2010. He did his PhD at the Institut d’Optique under the supervision of Philippe Bouyer and Alain Aspect (Nobel Laureate Physics 2022) on the topic of weak non-destructive quantum measurements for the feedback control of atom interferometers. After his PhD, Ralf worked from 2014 to 2015 as a postdoc at the Observatoire de Paris on the development of on-chip atomic clocks using optical fiber cavities.
At the end of 2015, Ralf joined SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research in Utrecht as an optical instrument scientist. He worked there at first on the MAIT (Manufacturing Assembly Integration Testing) management of the immersed grating projects and later as a project manager for the SRON contribution for a spectropolarimeter for an earth observation mission. In 2020, around the same time when SRON moved from Utrecht to Leiden, Ralf became the head of the OptX section at SRON, where he leads a group of optical instrument scientists working on optical instrumentation for space. In addition, Ralf works with the Optics Research Group at TU Delft on optical research projects for space.
Ralf’s main research interests are on nanostructured optical elements such as photonic crystals and dielectric metasurfaces. Ultimately, these structures shall be combined with computational methods as integral part of the optical system design. The goal is to decrease the size and weight of current space optical instruments while keeping or even improving their performance. Recently started projects in this direction include the design of a photonic crystal spectrometer for the detection of greenhouse gases and a study on the performance limitations of metasurfaces due to stray light.