Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light
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The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) performs basic research in optical metrology, optical communication, new optical materials, plasmonics and nanophotonics and optical applications in biology and medicine. It is part of the Max Planck Society and was founded on January 1, 2009 in Erlangen near Nuremberg. The Institute is based on the Max Planck Research Group "Optics, Information and Photonics", which was founded in 2004 at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, as a precursor.
After a start-up phase the institute will comprise four divisions and several scientific service groups. The following departments are in operation as of August 2009:
Optics and Information Division
The head of this division and the founding director of the MPL, Prof. Gerd Leuchs, held the chair of optics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, which is now integrated in the MPL. The range of topics investigated includes classical optics (optical 3D metrology, interferometry, high-resolution interferometry, etc.) as well as quantum information processing and nanophotonics.
Photonics and New Materials Division
The division "Photonics and New Materials" is led by Prof. Philip St. J. Russell. The winner of the prestigious Körber European Science Prize was awarded the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach chair with his move from the University of Bath to Erlangen. The division investigates new optical materials, especially photonic crystal fibers.
Nanooptics, Biophotonics and Plasmonics
In 2010 Prof. Vahid Sandoghdar was appointed the third director of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light. Sandoghdar, previously working at ETH Zurich, was awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Professorships at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. His fields of interest comprise nanooptics, biophotonics and plasmonics.
On November 6 2012, it was announced that Prof. Oskar Painter would become the fourth director of the MPL. Like his predecessor Prof. Sandoghdar, Painter was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship as a professor at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg along with his position as the director of the MPL. From 2008, he was a professor at the Laboratory of Applied Physics and since 2011, a co-director at the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, both located in California Institute of Technology. He also received his PhD from Caltech in 2001. Painter's fields of research are nano-optomechanics and quantum optics in nanoscale and microscale systems.
Max Planck Fellow Group "Laser Physics and Photonics"
This group was led by Prof. Dr. Lijun Wang and was a division of the former Max Planck Research group, before it was transformed into the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light. The main focus is on applying optic methodologies to high precision measurements of physical parameters (such as gravitation or time).
The purpose of Max Planck Research Groups (MPRG) at various universities is to strengthen networking between universities and institutes of the Max Planck Society.
In 2004, the Max-Planck Society established a new Max Planck Research Group, "Optics, Information, and Photonics", at the Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nuremberg to advance collaboration between that university and the Max Planck Society. In June 2008, after an evaluation, the senate of the Max Planck Society decided to convert this group to a Max Planck institute and thereupon founded the "Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light" (German "Max-Planck-Institut für die Physik des Lichts"). with effect from January 1, 2009.