Jena (Germany) / online | October 13, 2023
Jena (Germany) / online | October 13, 2023
"A lot is being done for space research in Jena," said Prof. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, CEO of the German Aerospace Center, at this year's Photonics Days Jena. From October 12 to 13, the career and networking event invited international students from the fields of optics and photonics for the fifth time to network, discuss and also to dream a little - because with lectures and workshops, the event turned its gaze towards the stars.
In 1999, the famous Nebra Sky Disk was found just a few kilometers from Jena. It proves that people already had astronomical knowledge in the Bronze Age, about 4,000 years ago. Much has happened since then. But the fascination for space as a place of yearning for research and science remains unbroken.
Researchers from Jena are building on this scientific heritage not only with an eye to the future, but also with great success: Many large space missions, that are currently making its way to the stars, are equipped with high-tech from the City of Light. For example, the mission of the European Space Agency JUICE, which set out as recently as this spring to explore Jupiter's moons for possible water deposits. Or the CO2M mission, also an esa project. When CO2M lifts off in 2026, a spectrometer co-developed by researchers from Jena will be on board. The aim of the mission is to analyze the formation and distribution of greenhouse gases on Earth. The list could be extended to the James Webb Space Telescope, whose view back to the Big Bang is also made possible by high-precision mirrors from Jena.
Against this backdrop, the Photonics Days Jena 2023 were literally under a "lucky star". This is because the career and networking event, organized by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in cooperation with the Max Planck School of Photonics, placed a special focus this year on photonic technology that reaches for the stars - also in line with the BMBF Science Year on the topic of "Our Universe".
In the lecture series "Photonics4Future", researchers from Fraunhofer IOF gave insights into selected research projects - including the already mentioned JUICE and CO2M missions, but also into satellite-based quantum communication, which is intended to provide more data security in the information society with highly secure encryption - to about 165 participants who attended the event both on site in Jena and virtually from all over the world.
A special event highlight was the keynote by Prof. Dr. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla. The Chairwoman of the DLR Executive Board provided an outlook on the future of aerospace, which scientists from Jena are also playing a major role in shaping: "A great deal is being done for space research in Jena," she explained. With regard to necessary innovations, she also referred to the need to make air traffic emission-free in the future, as well as to technologies for researching and mitigating climate change.
Kaysser-Pyzalla cited the EnMAP mission as an example of this. The first German hyperspectral satellite was launched in 2022 and has since been collecting spectral data from the Earth's surface. By gathering important diagnostic information about the state of the Earth and its waters, missions like EnMAP would represent "a major step forward in the issue of sustainable agriculture," the DLR CEO explained. Fraunhofer IOF had produced a total of eleven mirrors as well as various optical layers for telescope and spectrometer optics on board the EnMAP satellite.
On the second day of the event, another keynote tied together this view of the future and the past: Prof. Dr. Michael Totzeck, Fellow at Carl Zeiss AG, recalled that the basis for all these technologies was laid here in the City of Light: It was in 1873 - exactly 150 years ago - that Jena optics pioneer Ernst Abbe first published the theoretical principles he had worked out for the resolution limit of light microscopes.
With his formula, Abbe laid the foundation for every telescope or optical instrument we find around the world today. He also gave us a view of the universe that is indispensable today for answering relevant questions about the future, such as climate change or the search for a potential new home somewhere in the vastness of space.
In addition, Photonics Days Jena fulfilled its mission to contribute to the networking of students and industry in the usual way: At the "Industry Breakfast", participants had the opportunity to establish valuable contacts with 11 companies and institutions from the optics and photonics industry. Virtual guests were also offered digital networking opportunities at a "Digital Breakfast".
Furthermore, young researchers were honored during the event: The ideas of five young researchers were highlighted in the idea pitch of the Center of Excellence in Photonics. Also the Applied Photonics Award, the young researcher award organized by Fraunhofer IOF, was awarded to the prize winners 2023.
This year's Photonics Days Jena once again enjoyed high international demand. The about 165 participants came - also made possible by the hybrid format with online streaming and a virtual program offer - for example from the USA, the United Kingdom or Canada, but also from India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea or Mexico.
In order to promote young talents and thus innovations in the fields of optics and photonics, Fraunhofer IOF together with the Graduate School Max Planck School of Photonics has been hosting the "Photonics Days Jena" as a networking and career event for students and PhD students since 2019. From October 12 to 13, the organizers invited to network with an international community as well as representatives of renowned companies at a hybrid event. In addition to the professional exchange, the focus was on orientation in career issues and the provision of valuable contacts for one's own professional career.
Next year, probably in autumn, Fraunhofer IOF and the Max Planck School of Photoncis will again invite to the Photonics Days Jena. The organizers will provide information about the specific date at www.photonicsdays.de. Furthermore, interested participants can sign up for a "date alarm clock" via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.