Based on the photon concept introduced by Albert Einstein in 1905, the invention of the laser in 1960 paved the way for a new research era in optics and photonics with the consequence that the properties of light can now be manipulated on a much wider scale. With optics and photonics acting as enablers and catalysts, the invention of photonic technologies has far-reaching consequences, triggering a revolution in many fields of science, medicine, and technology.
Prominent examples which have been effected are microscopy and imaging, spectroscopy, medical treatment, life sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and communication technologies. Electronics, the dominant technology of the 20th century lost its position to optics and photonics in the 21st century, which is frequently termed the "century of light". Great challenges in fundamental research and a huge market for optically dominated products drive the evolution in optics and photonics.
The Jena area has a long-standing tradition characterized by the symbiosis between academic research and a quickly developing optical industry including high potential for innovation already documented by those Jena pioneers Carl Zeiss, Otto Schott and Ernst Abbe. In fact, Jena has been a source of innovation in humanities and science since the 17th century. This multidisciplinary approach common among Jena researchers, as well as Jena's international reputation in top research areas, are key advantages.