News › Fraun­ho­fer IOF • Excel­lent rese­arch is cele­bra­ted on the occa­sion of the Inter­na­tio­nal Day of Light

With the »Inter­na­tio­nal Day of Light« on May 16, UNESCO draws atten­tion to rese­arch and sci­ence rela­ted to light as well as to light-based tech­no­lo­gies that – liter­ally – »illu­mi­nate« our lives in many areas. The Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute for App­lied Optics and Pre­cision Engi­nee­ring IOF in Jena, Ger­many con­tri­bu­tes to this with its excel­lent rese­arch on a glo­bal scale. Rese­ar­chers have already been awar­ded the »Deut­sche Zukunfts­preis« (Ger­man Future Prize) three times.

Let’s be honest: Who of us ever thinks about why a tiny LED lamp can illu­mi­nate a room as bright as day even at night? Or why our navi­ga­tion app still finds the right way when we our­sel­ves can no lon­ger see the forest for the trees? Whe­ther it’s tiny micro­chips in our smart­pho­nes or highly com­plex satel­li­tes in space – many of the tech­no­lo­gies on which our ever-gro­wing qua­lity of life is based work for us in secret.

But it is pre­cisely what remains invi­si­ble to most of us that rese­ar­chers at Fraun­ho­fer IOF are thin­king about – and their fin­dings not infre­quently have an impact of glo­bal sta­ture. In the past, their work has repeatedly ope­ned doors in sci­ence, indus­try and society. Today, tech­no­lo­gies deve­lo­ped at Fraun­ho­fer IOF are often a self-evi­dent part of our ever­y­day life. Pionee­ring pro­jects, which have been signi­fi­cantly co-deve­lo­ped by Fraun­ho­fer IOF rese­arch teams, have the­re­fore already been hono­red three times with the »Deut­sche Zukunfts­preis«, the Ger­man Federal President’s award for out­stan­ding inno­va­tion technologies.

Three times »Deut­sche Zukunfts­preis« for rese­ar­chers at Fraun­ho­fer IOF

The first award found its way to Jena in 2007. It was awar­ded for the deve­lo­p­ment of light-inten­sive high-per­for­mance LEDs. Tog­e­ther with the pho­to­nics com­pany OSRAM, Dr. Andreas Bräuer and his Fraun­ho­fer col­leagues, Dr. Peter Schrei­ber and Dr. Peter Dann­berg, suc­cee­ded in incre­a­sing the lumin­ous effi­cacy of LED lamps so dra­ma­ti­cally that they could be used as a uni­ver­sal light source. The LED, as it can be found in almost every house­hold today, was thus born.

Six years later, in 2013, the cove­ted tro­phy went to the »Licht­stadt Jena« (City of Light) for a second time – this time to Prof. Dr. Ste­fan Nolte. Tog­e­ther with rese­ar­chers from the Insti­tute of App­lied Phy­sics at Fried­rich Schil­ler Uni­ver­sity Jena and the com­pa­nies BOSCH and TRUMPF, he had deve­lo­ped ultras­hort pulse lasers (UKP) for indus­trial app­li­ca­ti­ons. Such lasers can be used to pro­cess a wide variety of mate­ri­als pre­cisely and quickly without hea­ting them too much and thus dama­ging them. Since then, UKP lasers have become an indis­pensable part of mass pro­duc­tion and an estab­lis­hed eco­no­mic factor.

Last year, Dr. Ser­giy Yulin finally brought the »Ger­man Future Prize« to Fraun­ho­fer IOF for a third time. In coope­ra­tion with rese­ar­chers from ZEISS and TRUMPF, he was hono­red for the pro­ject »EUV Litho­gra­phy – New Light for the Digi­tal Age«. »EUV« stands for extreme ultra­vio­let light. This new type of litho­gra­phy pro­cess makes it pos­si­ble to pro­duce more power­ful and energy-saving micro­chips than ever before. The new »EUV chips« thus form the basis for the fur­ther digi­tiz­a­tion of our daily lives and will enable for­ward-loo­king app­li­ca­ti­ons such as auto­ma­ted dri­ving, 5G or arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. In addi­tion, EUV tech­no­logy will drive tech­no­lo­gi­cal pro­gress that may seem almost incon­ceiva­ble to us today – the con­quest of space as a habi­tat, for example, or the pur­suit of a CO²-neu­tral life.

Solu­ti­ons with light of glo­bal format

The rese­arch work that was awar­ded the »Ger­man Future Prize« is repre­sen­ta­tive for several other exci­ting pro­jects at Fraun­ho­fer IOF that have a far-reaching impact on qua­lity of life, tech­no­lo­gi­cal pro­gress and eco­no­mic prosperity.

The diverse rese­arch topics at the insti­tute all have one thing in com­mon: they use light. Light that is con­trol­led so pre­cisely that it has already made the impos­si­ble pos­si­ble in the past and will con­ti­nue to help over­come bounda­ries in the future.


Desi­ree Haak
Press and Public Relations
Fraun­ho­fer IOF
 +49 3641 807–803