Introduction Academic Profile

Optical technologies are based on fundamental knowledge of optics and on the utilization of optical principles in different application fields. Whether in information and communication technologies (e.g. optical data communication, storage, encrypting), process engineering (e.g. machining, optical lithography in semi-conductor production, process control), medical and life science engineering (e.g. diagnostics, endoscopy, cell and tissue handling) or energy and environmental technology (e.g. energy saving lights, combustion and emission diagnostics), optical technologies are forming an interdisciplinary frame of scientific activities with important innovative aspects in particular at the borderlines between the different disciplines.

Before SAOT, the research competence in optics and optical technologies was spread over different faculties, departments and institutes of the university and is now integral part of SAOT. It can additionally be found in the local environment at external institutions and companies which partly have been founded as spin-off companies of university departments. Due to the strong accumulation of internationally well recognized scientists in the field of optical technologies in Erlangen, the FAU enjoys an excellent reputation as one of Europe’s leading research centers in optics and optical technologies. This is also the result of the early establishment of the interdisciplinary Research Association for Laser Technology Erlangen (FLE) in 1987 and the Bavarian Laser Center (BLZ) in 1993 and is impressively demonstrated by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) which has been founded during the 1st SAOT funding period in January 2009 out of the FAU Max Planck Research Group “Optics, Information and Photonics”. Also the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (FhG-IISB) works on important developments in optics, and several Collaborative Research Centres and Transfer Units, Research Training Groups and Research Units of the German Research Foundation (DFG) have been established at the FAU which have been or are still working with optical technologies. In November 2007 within the framework of the German Excellence Initiative the Excellence Cluster “Engineering of Advanced Materials” (EAM) has been established with five research areas one of which is “Engineering of Photonic and Optical Materials”. Due to this situation there is the unique possibility to merge the knowledge from various fields of optics and optical technologies and focus it on an interdisciplinary research orientated program for graduate studies as being provided by SAOT since 2006. This allows the qualification of personally and technically highly skilled engineers and scientist who could achieve further progress in the application of optical technologies in different disciplines and in particular also at the borderlines between these disciplines. This is particularly also done, e.g., in several projects of the Center of Excellence in Medical Engineering managed by the Medical Valley European Metropolitan Area Nuremberg being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) or in the SAOT Clinical Photonics Laboratory established during the 1st funding period.