After a long career in academia, Dieter Bingemann joined Ocean Optics in 2015 and has embraced his role as senior application scientist, collaborating with our custom engineering team and with customers to determine the best approach to complex application challenges using spectroscopy.
Bingemann is a chemist with extensive experience in laser and spectroscopic investigation techniques. He earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Germany) in 1994, and before joining Ocean Optics, was a professor of chemistry for more than a decade at Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.). Dieter is now based at our facility in Ostfildern, Germany, where he remains a passionate advocate of what science and spectroscopy can do to help the world.
Question: What first inspired your interest in science?
Bingemann: As far as I can think back I have been curious about how things work. I started taking everything apart when I was six, from mechanical alarm clocks to old radios – the typical boy stuff. It just has never stopped – I still want to know how everything works, from man-made gadgets to unsolved mysteries in the natural world. I just love the sciences.
Question: What is the role of the Senior Application Engineer at Ocean Optics?
Bingemann: I think about the question the customer wants answered and try to find the best spectroscopic solution for the problem with literature searches, quick prototypes built from off-the-shelf components, feasibility tests in the lab, and careful data analysis to see if the approach works as intended. I might end up as the middleman between the custom engineering team and the customer one day or as Santa’s little technical helper for the sales team the next.
Question: What has been the most rewarding part of your work experience?
Bingemann: I have been with Ocean Optics for less than a year, and I have already learned about so many really cool projects – which goes well with my insatiable curiosity. What I find most rewarding, though, is how these projects solve real problems in the world, help people make better decisions, be safe, and grow better food. One exciting and rewarding challenge, for example, will be food fraud, such as detecting melamine in milk powder or methanol in counterfeit spirits. Just remember the horsemeat scandal in Great Britain a few years back.
Question: What surprises you the most about science and technology today?
Bingemann: How small and powerful things have gotten. The miniaturization in today’s technology developments is unbelievable. It started with computing a while ago and has found its way into optics and spectroscopy by now. But just thinking of how nature packs enormous functionality into tiny little cells, I truly believe that despite all these advances we have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Question: What profession would you like to pursue if you weren’t a scientist or engineer?
Bingemann: I enjoy making a difference in people’s life. Allowing them to use spectroscopy for their benefit is one way to go about that goal. If science and engineering had not worked out for me, I could also imagine myself as a family doctor, in this case solving people’s medical problems, helping them to live a better life.