Impressions of past Photonics Days

Geared towards young scientists, 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. Together with the photonics graduate school Max Planck School of Photonics, the participants were offered a varied program.


They tinkered, pitched and networked for all it’s worth: This year’s Photonics Days Jena was quite an affair. 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 – focused on finding creative solutions to questions from the field of photonics. The elaborated projects were presented in the form of short pitches to a jury, who awarded the best idea among a large number of innovative ones.


Industry speed dating, career fair and science & industry breakfast

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

Escape room

In addition to the makeathon, students could also demonstrate their scientific creativity in an escape room. Bundling their competencies, they had to solve different riddles to find their 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 filed 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, in which young scientists had to convince the audience of their research ideas in quick 3-minute 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 over a total of seven competitors and received 20,000 euros in prize money from the funds of the Center of Excellence in Photonics.



Elevator pitches and keynote speeches of Michael Kaschke and Gérard Mourou