In conversation with Fabian Thome

How did you come to work at Fraunhofer IAF?

After I discovered the institute through an internet search during my studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), I took two lectures by staff who worked at IAF, Prof. Ingmar Kallfass and Dr. Martin Walther, the latter still being part of IAF. I truly enjoyed both lectures and after the term, I was offered an internship at the institute. This was my way in. It started with an internship, which was followed by my diploma thesis and since then I have been working and writing my dissertation at IAF.


What is the topic of your dissertation?

The primary question is: how to combine data rates as high as possible with low power consumption in one integrated circuit. I research what factors affects both the power consumption and the data rate, and try to find the optimal solution in order to improve wireless networks of the future.

My research aims at data links, that is to say the communication between two determined communication devices. This allows various possible applications. One example is a data or video kiosk at which mobile data can be downloaded much faster than today. Another use would be to improve the communication between data nodes and base stations. This makes my research promising for future communication devices and the upcoming mobile communication standard 5G.


What is your work routine as a research assistant at Fraunhofer IAF?

I am involved in various projects, some of which are thematically quite different. This is very fruitful for me, as I am not restricted to one specific field, but am able to delve into a wide range of topics. I even work in two business units of IAF at the same time. On the one hand, I work in high frequency electronics, where I research integrated circuits for cryogenic applications for radio astronomy, or even for future quantum computing. On the other hand, I also work in power electronics, where I design highly linear receiver systems. Even though the topics are different, the fundamental questions are often the same and the synergies of the two business units are perfect for a circuit designer like me.

© Fraunhofer IAF

Of all the projects you work in, which is your favorite?

A project which I have been able to be part of from the start is RadioNet. It is a large EU project and we at IAF are involved with a subproject that aims to develop and improve receiver systems for radio astronomy applications. I have been involved since its start in 2017, from writing the draft proposal up to the project management on the part of IAF. It was the perfect start for me as a young scientist. I was able to benefit from existing structures and at the same time had the opportunity to shape and navigate the project.


You are almost done with your doctorate, what’s next?

I already have many ideas and I am curious what I will be able to realize. I want to stay at IAF, because its combination of different applications and technologies is one of a kind. Considering that extremely low noise technology and power electronics are being researched at such a high level within the same institute is probably unique in Europe. This is why IAF is so promising especially for someone like me, who works in the field of circuit design. I benefit greatly from always having the best technological solutions for my circuits at hand. The infrastructure at IAF allows me to develop a circuit from blueprint to production all in-house and it is even possible to implement experiments that evolve out of the circuit, or vice versa, into the technology.


What do you cherish most about Freiburg and its surroundings?

I really like the location at the border triangle with France and Switzerland. I have the feeling that it has a positive effect on the mentality of the people. They are a bit more relaxed here compared to the rest of Germany. Another great thing about the location is the countryside of the black forest. I really like biking and Freiburg offers both beautiful hills and scenic plains surrounding the city.


What has been your personal highlight at Fraunhofer IAF?

One highlight certainly was a moment in my doctorate in which all the ideas came together and the overall concept proved to work out. Furthermore, there are always small highlights throughout the daily routine, for example when a new circuit design functions. Especially if everyone doubted it at first and it turns out just fine. These highlights constantly keep me motivated.


How would you describe Fraunhofer IAF briefly with three words?

Motivating, challenging and it is also safe to say – excellent.


Fabian Thome is carrying out research in the field of circuit design in two business units at Fraunhofer IAF; power electronics and high frequency electronics. Furthermore, he is writing his dissertation on »wireless low power transmission systems with high data rates«. Previously, he studied electrical and information engineering with focus on circuit design and nanoelectronic circuits at the Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT).

Further employees of Fraunhofer IAF in conversation


»The idea behind my dual position is the promotion of young researchers.«


»The mixing of my Spanish and the German culture was highly productive for my research«


»Actually, IAF is like a Hidden Champion.«


»Creating a relationship built on trust is important for the team spirit.«