Today, optics is widely regarded as one of the most important key technologies for this century. Many experts even anticipate that the 21st century will be the century of the photon. Optics and optical technologies have impact to nearly all areas of life and cover a wide range of applications in science and industry, e.g. in information and communication technology, in production, process and particle engineering, in medicine, medical technology and life science engineering as well as in energy and environmental technology. Optics is a key underpinning science and baseline technology. Innovations in optics and optical technologies are thus important not only for the subject itself but also for practically all other topics and market segments.

To fully exploit this vast potential fully it is of great importance to adapt the academic education to the requirements of optics and optical technologies. This is a challenging task as optics is extremely interdisciplinary in its application fields. Physicists, chemists, biologists, physicians and engineers working in many disciplines (e.g., materials science, metrology, medicine, manufacturing technology) often use similar optical methods but without close collaboration and thus without knowledge transfer between the disciplines. Because of this diversity and the all-pervasive nature of optics, the efficiency of research and development in optical technology is quite low and must be improved by better academic education. The graduate education of personally and technically highly skilled engineers and scientists in the broad area of optics and optical technologies will achieve further progress in the development and application in this field and especially at the interfaces between the disciplines Physics, Engineering and Medicine. It forms one of the strong pillars for the future scientific and technological innovations and thus for the economic competitiveness of German business and society.

The Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) provides the infrastructure and the scientific competence in all mentioned disciplines within the Erlangen Graduate School in Advanced Optical Technologies (SOAT) forming a world-leading center for the academic education in optics and optical technologies. SAOT provides an interdisciplinary research and education program of excellence within a broad international network of distinguished experts to promote innovation and leadership in the areas optical metrology, optical material processing, optics in medicine, optics in communication and information technology, optical materials and systems, and computational optics.