Impressions of past Photonics Days

The traditional annual event of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF – the Photonics Days Jena – took place from September 17 to 19, 2019 and focused on the young scientists. Together with the photonics graduate school Max Planck School of Photonics, the participants were offered a varied program.


They tinkered, pitched and networked for three days: This year’s Photonics Days Jena had it all. The annual event of the Fraunhofer IOF was organized in cooperation with the newly established Max Planck School of Photonics as an HR and career event for the first time and primarily addressed students and doctoral students.


The Makeathon of the Lichtwerkstatt Jena – the Photonics Makerspace of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena – was concerned with finding creative solutions to questions from the field of photonics. The elaborated projects were presented in the form of short pitches to a jury, which awarded the best among the large number of innovative ideas.

Industry speeddating, career fair and science & industry breakfast

Moreover, the participants were offered extensive opportunities to clarify questions about their career choices: Which career paths can be taken in photonics? What is important when I apply for jobs in photonics companies? To gain perspectives, participants had ample opportunity to meet representatives of the optics and photonics industry (at a science and industry breakfast and industry speeddates), while they also could gain insights into future trends and requirements in the industry.

Escape room

In addition to the makeathon, the students could also demonstrate their scientific creativity in an escape room. With bundled competence different puzzles had to be solved to find the way out of the Escape Room.

Free lecture program: Elevator Pitches and Physics Nobel Prize winner

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a public lecture series was added to the program. Around 300 visitors streamed into the lecture hall of the Friedrich Schiller University to listen to the keynote speeches by ZEISS CEO Prof. Michael Kaschke and physics Nobel Prize winner Gérard Mourou. The “Elevator Pitches” of the Center of Excellence in Photonics, where young scientists had to convince the audience of their research ideas in 3-minute short lectures, also enjoyed great popularity.


René Lachmann and Benedict Diederich from the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies (IPHT) received the most votes. They presented an approach for developing sophisticated microscope technology, which is otherwise only available in stationary form, as a mobile toolbox. In order for the concept to be imitable – e.g. for educational institutions or laboratory environments – the data of the project is publicly accessible. With their pitch they prevailed against a total of seven competitors and received prize money of 20,000 euros from the funds of the photonics service center.


Elevator pitches and keynote speeches of Michael Kaschke and Gérard Mourou