Fraunhofer IOF – We about us

Solutions with light


We conduct application-oriented research and development along the entire photonic innovation chain. Our highly trained scientists never lose sight of our research partners’ and customers’ mission, regardless of whether the goal is the scientific exploration of space or the transfer to commercial exploitation.

Together we strive for innovative solutions that provide a technological advantage in science and industry and open up new fields of application for photonics. Covering the whole range of basic research and applied research to the capability of prototypical production of components and systems, we develop suitable solutions for a multitude of photonic challenges. Our work is focused on the business areas of light sources and lasers, opto-mechanical systems, sensor technology and metrology and photonic quantum technology.

Our research is based on the passion to face challenges and to break new ground. 


Scientist mounts components at the photon source

Contract research with the offer of the complete process chain

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF develops solutions for all aspects of light generation, light guidance and light measurement. Depending on the task, we can offer the entire process chain or individual process steps for each of these areas – the design, the production of components, the assembly to opto-mechanical or opto-electronic systems, as well as a holistic characterization. The interdisciplinary concentration of our competences in the fields of optics and precision engineering allows us to develop complex and unique photonic components and systems.


From the definition of the problem to the market launch

If desired, we accompany our customers from their initial request to the market launch. All our research and development processes are carried out in line with market trends. This turns our ideas and approaches into sustainable solutions for our customers. We also take care of translating results and developments into the processes of our partners and customers in the form of personnel qualification or technology transfer.


Offer of services and patent licenses

  • In addition to contract research, we also offer individual services according to our developed technologies. Our services include, for example, the functional coating of surfaces, material and component testing, ultra-precision machining of components, high-speed 3D measurements or the construction of tailor-made special machines. You can find more information about our services on the corresponding technology pages.
  • Fraunhofer IOF holds a large number of patents on optical technologies and developments, for which we offer various licensing models. Our patents can be viewed on the websites of the corresponding technologies.


Projection of Joseph von Fraunhofer

For industry, service companies and science

Our range of services is aimed at industrial and service companies of all sizes - whether small/medium-sized companies or corporations - and at scientific institutions. The customers of Fraunhofer IOF come from the fields of aerospace, medical and security technology, information, communication, consumer electronics, mobility, production and research.

Our range of services includes system solutions - new system design concepts, the development of technologies, manufacturing and measurement techniques, and the construction of prototypes and pilot series for applications in the wavelength range from millimeters to nanometers. In addition, we also assist our customers with integrating the solutions into their processes.


From Jena to the world and beyond

Our scientists also realize solutions for clients far outside Germany. Our developments are used wherever light can unfold its potential. Some developments from Fraunhofer IOF have even left the earth and are used on the International Space Station (ISS), among other places.


Scientists designing on the computer

Our range of services:


For industry, service companies and scientific institutionsof all sizes

  • Feasibility & design studies
  • Process simulation
  • Experimental R&D services
  • Development and optimization of manufacturing processes
  • Development of new optical components and systems
  • Manufacturing of prototypes

  • Patent licensing
  • Material and component testing
  • Technology transfer and personnel qualification
  • Innovation management & business model development
  • Support for technology spin-offs

Our areas of competence

Since its foundation in 1992, Fraunhofer IOF has grown steadily. In order to meet the changing internal and external business conditions in the future, Fraunhofer IOF has been restructured in 2020. The new structure comprises eight areas of expertise.


Optical and Mechanical System Design

Optics design | Mechanical design | Simulation and analysis | System design


Micro and Nano-structured Optics

Advanced Micro-optical Components | Center for Advanced Micro- and Nano-Optics


Opto-mechatronical Components and Systems

Micro assembly and printing | Quantum hardware


Precision Optical Components and Systems

Functionalized precision components | Precision optics | Opto-mechanical precision systems


Functional Surfaces and Coatings

Conformal coating | Coating of plastic optics | Coating for space and precision optics | Surface and layer characterization


Laser and Fiber Technology

Laser technology | Fiber technology


Imaging and Sensing

3D sensors | Image processing and artificial intelligence


Emerging Technologies

Our future areas:


Adaptive and active Optics |

Quantum communication technologies | Quantum imaging

How to cooperate with us

Contract research

We offer contract research in the field of optics and photonics to interested parties. Depending on the request of the contract research, cooperations can be realized with Fraunhofer IOF alone or together with other partners. According to the complexity of the problem, it is sometimes advisable to include different partners to find a solution. With the help of our broad national and international network with other Fraunhofer institutes, external research facilities as well as companies, we take on the coordination and serve as a point of contact for large-scale projects. Our employees have many years of experience with major projects and can also advise on state subsidies.

Talk to us and we can point out ways of working together and which expenses to expect. You can reach us quickly via our contact form. Or contact the appropriate contact person directly: You can find a list of contact persons here or on the pages of the corresponding technologies.


Services and patent licenses

We offer many of our processes and developments as services and various models for patent licenses. If you would like more detailed information on this topic, please get in touch with the respective contact of the department. A list of contacts can be found here or on the websites of the corresponding technologies.


  • The cooperation with Fraunhofer IOF is customizable. We will adapt our cooperation method to your individual requirements.
  • The initial consultation phase is free of charge. We will not charge you for our services until all agreements are finalized and the contracts are signed.
  • Further information on cooperations (including rights, advertising, secrecy) can be found on the website "Everything you wanted to know about Fraunhofer (FAQs)".
We look forward to your inquiries!
Researcher holds the transparent glass GRISM in his hand

Our cooperative principles and values

Reliability, a solution-focused approach, and quality as well as good scientific practice and customer satisfaction are the foundation of our work. We understand our customers and know their challenges of tomorrow. Together we develop holistic solutions for their long-term success.

We guarantee a fair cooperation based on trust. Respect, appreciation and openness are among our core values for working together. We are characterized by interdepartmental cooperation with flexible and agile work processes.


Our most important resource

Our success is based on the knowledge and enthusiasm of our employees. We offer excellent conditions and a high degree of self-determination. Our scientists actively shape the future of photonics. Therefore, we attach great importance to their professional promotion and personal development.


Two researchers in cleanroom clothing assemble components of a space telescope

Innovative capacity through cooperation with basic research


Cooperation with the Institute of Applied Physics

Fraunhofer IOF works very closely with the Institute for Applied Physics of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (IAP), which conducts basic research. It is not only the same research topic of optics and photonics that the IAP and Fraunhofer IOF have in common; they also share Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, who is the director of both institutes. Together with other institutions, the research institutes pool their expertise and form the Center of Excellence in Photonics. This close cooperation enables us to offer our clients and research partners the complete innovation chain - from basic and application-oriented research to the realization of the final application - if required.


Benefits for our clients due to our network

The large number of excellent scientists and the outstanding technical equipment concentrated at the location in Jena give our customers and research partners an obvious competitive advantage in the realization of innovative optical technologies and outstanding projects.


A multitude of institutes on the Beutenberg Campus in Jena

Fraunhofer IOF (blue building complex in the foreground) and the Institute for Applied Physics (IAP; brownish buildings behind the Fraunhofer IOF) are located on the Beutenberg Campus in Jena. Besides many other facilities on the campus, research and development are carried out here. Due to our wide range of scientific disciplines, we are able to work efficiently on interdisciplinary projects.

Selected projects from the Fraunhofer IOF

Excellence right from the start

According to our customers’ orders, our scientists have been continuously researching new technologies and realizing optical components and systems since 1992. Their publications attest many of their successes. Overview of publications (by years)

In addition to scientific publications, the large number of our patents also stands for our scientific innovative capacity. Fraunhofer IOF holds many patents in the field of optical processes and developments. You can view the patents in the individual areas of expertise.


Optical developments for advancement

In the history of our research institute, we and our employees can look back on many exciting projects commissioned by customers and also on developments with added social benefits. We are very proud of our previous solutions with light and look forward to continuing to implement new ideas for our customers and partners.


Tiny LED array projector with great performance


BMW 7 Series with the bright Welcome Light Carpet next to the driver's door.
© Fraunhofer IOF
LED array projector for the BMW Welcome Light Carpet.
Tiny lens array projector
© Fraunhofer IOF
Array projector developed at Fraunhofer IOF for the BMW Welcome Light Carpet.
BMW 7 Series with the bright Welcome Light Carpet next to the driver's door.
© Fraunhofer IOF
From research to industrial application - compact array projector in the BMW 7 Series.


The Welcome Light Carpet for the BMW 7 Series

The successfully practiced duality at Fraunhofer IOF as a mediator between basic research and application development is reflected in the market launch of the light carpet in the BMW 7 Series. Here, basic results of the Fraunhofer foundation project "facetVision" were successfully converted into marketable systems.


Intensity of lighting independent of its size

By developing a micro-optical array projector, the researchers succeeded in dissolving the connection between the size of the system and the intensity of lighting.


Honored with the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize

Dr. Peter Dannberg (Fraunhofer IOF), Dr. Peter Schreiber (Fraunhofer IOF) and Marcel Sieler (former Fraunhofer IOF) have been awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2016 for their LED array projector, which is based on the model of insect eyes and is installed as a light carpet in high-end automobiles. Such innovations are only possible with a particular degree of scientific and technological excellence and with an outstanding cooperation with partners from the industry.


More information about the LED array projector for automotive applications


Read more about our various projection systems realized so far at Fraunhofer IOF.


Developed to suit customer requirements.

Benefits of the Array Projector


  • small component size
  • robust system
  • hi-flux images
  • consistent sharpness

Dr. Peter Schreiber


Fraunhofer IOF
Albert-Einstein-Strasse 7
07745 Jena

Phone +49 3641 807-430

Hyperspectral measuring instrument DESIS


Two metal mirrors for the DESIS instrument.
© Fraunhofer IOF
Metal mirrors for the DESIS instrument: freeform mirror for the spectrometer and double mirror for the telescope.
System for the DESIS mission.
© Fraunhofer IOF
Optical system consisting of a telescope and spectrometer for the DESIS mission.
Multi-spectral image of the city Tyler.
Section of a first complete multi-spectral data set dated 08/30/2018 from above the city of Tyler (Texas/USA) in combination of the channels 560, 665 and 865 nm with particularly high-contrast characterization of the vegetation.


Earth observation from space

Since the summer of 2018, the Earth has been observed with the “Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer” instrument (DESIS for short) by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) from the International Space Station ISS using hyperspectral optics consisting of 235 spectral channels. DESIS observes the Earth's surface around the clock and provides DLR experts with important data on the current state and changes in land and water surfaces.


Components of the system

For this project, Fraunhofer IOF developed the optical system that provides the hyperspectral data for DESIS. The optical system consists, among others, of a three-mirror anastigmat (TMA). This telescope initially maps the observed strip of the Earth's surface onto a slit. This is followed by the actual imaging spectrometer while parallelly performing the spectral decomposition using a reflective grating.


Interdepartmental cooperation

We at Fraunhofer IOF are very proud of this project because all of our departments were involved in the development -  ranging from the design of single components as well as the whole system, the coatings of the components, and the manufacturing of the photonic sensors up to the assembly of the optical system.


Read more about our systems for astronomy and aerospace such as telescopes, spectrometers or scanners.


Developed for extreme requirements.

Benefits of the hyperspectral measurement system


  • 235 spectral channels
  • spectral bandwidth of 2.5 nanometers
  • covering the visible to near-infrared spectrum

Dr. Stefan Risse


Fraunhofer IOF
Albert-Einstein-Strasse 7
07745 Jena

Phone +49 3641 807-313

New records in optical 3D measurement


3D images of a rope skipper at three different points in time.
© Fraunhofer IOF
Rope skipper in 3D at three different points in time - example of a high-speed measurement system.
3D images of the deployment of an airbag at four different points in time.
© Fraunhofer IOF
Demonstration of an airbag inflation: 3D data at four different points in time. Recorded with the high-speed 3D measuring technique with gobo projection developed by Fraunhofer IOF.
Sensor head of the 3D measuring system
© Fraunhofer IOF
3D measuring technique with gobo projection for 3D recording of highly dynamic scenes.


New approaches in high-speed measurement

Industry and research already benefit from optical 3D measurement in many areas. However, its use has so far mostly been limited to static measurement tasks. At Fraunhofer IOF, completely new approaches have been developed to solve this problem, which allow a pattern projection of up to several kHz. These new approaches use micro-optical array projection techniques and new pattern projection methods (e.g., gobo projection). This opens up the possibility to capture highly dynamic processes and moving measurement scenes in 3D.


Measurable details despite high speed

For the measurement of highly dynamic processes, pattern sequences with very high frame rates must be projected onto the scene. Fraunhofer IOF has developed a projection system based on a powerful gas discharge lamp and a specially adapted pattern to meet these requirements. In combination with a high-speed stereo camera system, extremely high 3D measurement rates are possible. With this system, even the smallest deformations can be measured within fractions of a second. The IOF technology achieves 3D rates of up to 50,000 data records per second, each with over 200,000 measuring points on the surface of the examined object.


More information about the high-speed measuring system for 3D acquisition


Read more about our already realized 3D measuring systems.



Ready for a wide range of applications.

Benefits of the ultrafast 3D measuring system


  • contactless 3D measurement
  • active illumination of the measuring scene
  • high-speed images
  • variable measuring distance

Dr. Peter Kühmstedt


Fraunhofer IOF
Albert-Einstein-Strasse 7
07745 Jena

Phone +49 3641 807-230

Overview of cooperations and initiatives of Fraunhofer IOF


Fraunhofer is tackling the current challenges facing industry head on. Its lighthouse projects put the focus on strategic objectives with a view to developing practical solutions from which economies such as Germany’s can benefit.

The topics these projects address are geared towards economic requirements.

By pooling their expertise and involving industrial partners at an early stage, the Fraunhofer Institutes involved in the projects aim to turn original scientific ideas into marketable products as quickly as possible.  





The Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Quantum Methods for Advanced Imaging Solutions" (QUILT) aims to translate groundbreaking research results from the field of quantum technology into innovative components and systems as well as solution-oriented methodes.

Involved partners:

  • Fraunhofer IOF, IPM, IMS, IOSB, ILT, ITWM
  • IQOQI (Wien)

Individuality in
mass production

The Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Go Beyond 4.0" addresses the integration of digital printing and laser processes into existing, increasingly networked manufacturing environments. The result: individualization of components in mass production environments with new possibilities for design, material savings and weight reduction.

Involved partners:

  • Fraunhofer ENAS, IFAM, ILT, ISC, IWU, IOF



The aim of the project Hierarchical swarms as utilization optimized production architecture (SWAP) is to create the basis for production environments that include modular manufacturing units. These collaborate in swarms of similar/different tools, machines or transport vehicles and (partially) work together autonomously and productively.

Involved partners:

  • Institutes of the Fraunhofer Group for Production, Light & Surfaces, Fraunhofer IUK


Fraunhofer CAPS


The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS (led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and Fraunhofer IOF) acts as a virtual institute. The participating institutes conduct research on laser sources as well as process technology and applications for power up to 20 kW. Partners from research and industry are invited to participate.

Involved partners:


Fraunhofer Group for Light & Surfaces


Fraunhofer Institutes with related disciplines join forces in research alliances and represent themselves at the R&D market. The six member institutes combine complementary expertise in the fields of laser, optics, measurement and coating technology.

Involved partners:

  • Fraunhofer FEP, ILT, IPM, IST, IWS, IOF

Fraunhofer Space Alliance

The Fraunhofer Space Alliance is an association of 16 institutes that conduct applied research in the field of industrial space technology.

More information


Fraunhofer Transport Alliance

The Fraunhofer Transport Alliance develops adequate technical and conceptual solutions for the public and industry partners and puts these solutions into practice by means of transport-related research.

More information


Fraunhofer Business Unit Vision

The Business Unit Vision combines the expertise of several Fraunhofer Institutes in the field of image processing.

More information


Fraunhofer Project Hub MEOS


In the future, three Fraunhofer Institutes will conduct research on new biomedical applications and systems at the “Microelectronic and Optical Systems for Biomedicine” (MEOS) project center in Erfurt, Germany, in close collaboration with industry.

Involved partners:

  • Fraunhofer IPMS, IZI, IOF


From components to next generation systems

Growth core
Freeform Optics Plus


In the innovative regional growth core ƒo+, eight photonics companies and two research institutes in Thuringia have intensified their cooperation to develop and market freeform optical systems.


Innovation Alliance 3Dsensation


The 3Dsensation alliance gives machines the ability to visually capture and interpret complex scenarios in real-time. Innovative 3D technologies will fundamentally change the interaction between man and machine. The aim of 3Dsensation is to increase human safety in manufacturing processes, improve health care, ensure mobility in urban and rural areas and enhance public safety by identifying conspicuous features and dangers.


Empowering research. Enabling innovation.

Center of Excellence in Photonics


The “Center of Excellence in Photonics” is a joint initiative of the Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, the Leibniz Institutes HKI and IPHT and the Helmholtz Institute Jena.

Together we develop new solutions with light for important future fields and promote their implementation and application in science, economy and society.

With the Center of Innovation Competence “ultra optics”, the Center for Advanced Micro- and Nano-Optics and the Application Center Microoptical Systems, in close cooperation with the Institute of Applied Physics of the Friedrich Schiller University, we have outstanding competencies in basic research and technology development in micro- and nano-optics.



ultra-optics –
Center of Innovation Competence


laser physics - nano optics - photonic materials


CMN-Optics –
Center for Advanced Micro- and Nano-Optics


For the first time in Europe, micro- and nano-optics now have access to a microstructure technology production facility with parameters that are otherwise only found in semiconductor industry production facilities.


Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Abbe Center of Photonics


Our partner Abbe Center of Photonics (ACP) coordinates and represents a broad spectrum of research topics in basic and applied photonics within the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

The aim of the junior research groups "NanoReplica" and “Insect-inspired Imaging Optical Systems” is to strengthen the capacity of innovation by cooperating with regional industry and interdisciplinary collaboration.



Development of flat, high-resolution and inexpensive imaging systems



Research project to develop a new miniaturized camera technology

Overview of our networks


Project partners

Fraunhofer IOF works on behalf of industrial and service companies as well as the public sector. Due to our extensive experience in research, we have a wide-ranging network of former and current project partners from diverse industries worldwide.

Partnerships with basic research

Fraunhofer IOF cooperates very closely with basic research institutes such as the Institute for Applied Physics of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena or the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information IQOQI in Vienna. Thus, the complete process chain can be offered - from basic research and application-oriented research to the realization of the final application - if required.

Partnerships with universities

In Thuringia, Fraunhofer IOF maintains close contact with

  • Ernst Abbe University Jena,
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena and
  • University of Technology Ilmenau.

The collaboration includes scientific cooperations as well as university professorships and authorizations to teach for our scientists.

Fraunhofer Network

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the leading organization for applied research in Europe. Its research activities are conducted by 74 institutes and research institutions at locations throughout Germany. 

The institutes as a whole cover a broad spectrum of research fields. The strong networking among the Fraunhofer institutes ensures the successful completion of interdisciplinary projects. This is also reflected in the realization of the Fraunhofer lighthouse projects.

Alumni Network


Together with the Institute for Applied Physics, Fraunhofer IOF has a joint network of former employees. We value our alumni and keep in touch.

Twice a year we send out our alumni newsletter with selected topics that fits our target group. Furthermore, we organize the annual Alumni Network Meeting in summer, which focuses on the exchange of information about new photonic developments and technologies.

Education Network


The Max Planck School of Photonics (MPSP) is one of three pilot schools of a joint project of several German research institutions. They aim to establish a national research and education network to make the German science system more attractive for top international students.

The MPSP is led by Fraunhofer IOF. The network of excellence pools expertise of the German photonics community in a unique way across disciplines, institutions and regions with the most talented young researchers.

Foundation Network


The Digital Innovation Hub Photonics (DIHP) initiative from the High-Performance Center of Photonics (Fraunhofer IOF and IAP) supports SMEs and start-ups in the field of optics and photonics in transforming innovative ideas into marketable solutions. The marketing of innovative technologies is intended to strengthen the German economy in the long term in international competition.

In addition to its network in the photonics industries, the DIHP also has a broad network of start-up-related institutions.

This might also be of interest to you:

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to get in contact with us:

Simply send an e-mail
to our contact persons.

Contact persons

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Overview of our trade fair participations