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“Center of Excellence in Photonics”: Three million euros for new research collaborations offering applications in medicine and life sciences


With nearly three million euros in funding, the “Center of Excellence in Photonics” as Jena’s innovation platform continues to expand its research. 1.5 million euros of this comes from the Free State of Thuringia. The grants will be used to initiate new research collaborations, especially in imaging for life sciences and medicine. A particular focus is on technologies operating in the spectral range of EUV radiation and beyond.

Since 2016, the “Center of Excellence in Photonics” has taken up the challenge of developing innovative solutions with light for important future fields and promoting their implementation and application in science, industry and society. The center of excellence combines applied research with scientifically outstanding basic research on the control of light – ranging from its generation and manipulation to its application.

Free State of Thuringia funds new research collaborations with 1.5 million

Since its launch, the Free State of Thuringia has supported the center as a relevant innovation and transfer platform at the optics location Jena. This year, the state is funding the center of excellence and the cooperation between partners with 1.5 million euros. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is contributing another 1.35 million for projects on efficient research transfer, such as support for optics and photonics startups. The joint funding by the Free State of Thuringia and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft also enables the center of excellence to focus on promoting young scientists, in particular by supporting doctoral projects and supplementing them with innovative future topics within the framework of the “Fraunhofer Graduate Research School of Applied Photonics”.

New research collaborations for applications in life sciences

The state’s grant will be used in particular for research collaborations between the partners involved in the center: The focus is on the so-called “Joint Imaging Labs”. The goal is to pool the expertise of the partners with regard to innovative and high-performance imaging technologies. Applications are planned especially in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

Here, the Helmholtz Institute Jena will contribute to the “Joint EUV-XUV Technology Lab”, where the development of a new type of imaging at the boundary between extreme ultraviolet light and the soft X-ray range is to be driven forward. In contrast to the established method of electron microscopy, which can only characterize tissue samples on the surface, the latest EUV technologies enable non-destructive imaging on a larger scale. In recent years, the Helmholtz Institute Jena has been able to realize the world’s most powerful microscopy systems in the EUV range. Record resolutions in the range of less than 50 nanometers could be demonstrated as well as fast measurements on large areas. Simultaneously, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF developed the world’s most powerful femtosecond laser at a wavelength of two micrometers as part of the Fraunhofer CAPS cluster. This enables an efficient generation of secondary radiation in the soft X-ray range. The goal of the “Joint EUV-XUV Technology Lab” is to develop a worldwide unique high-power source in the soft X-ray range on the basis of this comprehensive know-how and to make it usable for scientific and industrial tasks with adapted imaging processes.

The complete press release of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF can be found here.