Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light

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Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, new building, July 2015.jpg
The new building of the MPL in Erlangen
Abbreviation MPL
Formation 2009; 9 years ago (2009)
Type Scientific institute
Purpose Research in optics and photonics
Headquarters Erlangen, Germany
Coordinates 49°34′55″N 11°01′37″E / 49.581858333333°N 11.026952777778°E / 49.581858333333; 11.026952777778
Key people
Gerd Leuchs, Philip Russell, Vahid Sandoghdar
Parent organization
Max Planck Society
Formerly called
Max Planck Research Group for Optics, Information and Photonics

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.


The institute currently is organized in 3 divisions, each led by an equal director. The institute is also the home of several Max Planck research groups that are organizationally independent of the divisions. The institute researchers are supported by several scientifically active technology development and service units. The MPL also hosts an International Max Planck Research School Physics of Light [1]. Through the appointment of the directors and affiliated professors as university professors, through several affiliated groups and participation in graduate schools, a collaboration between the MPL and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg is maintained.[1]

Division Leuchs[edit]

The head of this division Prof. Gerd Leuchs is the first founding director. He 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. [2]

Division Russell[edit]

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. [3]

Division Sandoghdar[edit]

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. [4]

Max Planck Research Groups[edit]

  • Painter research group - led by Oskar Painter. Research on quantum opto-mechanics and photonic nanostructures.
  • Christiansen research group - led by Silke Christiansen. Research on the synthesis of photonic nanostructures.
  • Vollmer research group - led by Frank Vollmer. Research on biophotonics and biosensing.

Technology Development and Service Units[edit]

  • TDSU 1: Micro- and nanostructuring,
  • TDSU 2: Optical technologies,
  • TDSU 3: Fiber fabrication and glass studio.

Former research groups[edit]

  • Junior research group "integrated quantum optics", led by Christine Silberhorn,
  • Research group "Nonlinear photonic nanostructure", led by Fabio Biancalana,
  • Research group "Optical quantum information theory", led by Peter van Loock,
  • Max Planck fellow group "Laser Physics and Photonics" led by Prof. Dr. Lijun Wang with a focus on optical high precision measurements.


The interior of the building

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").[2] with effect from January 1, 2009.

In 2016, the new building was opened. The project was made by the Munich architecture bureau Fritsch + Tschaidse Architekten GmbH.[3]


  1. ^ "Organizational Chart and Information". Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Max-Planck-Gesellschaft – Presseinformation
  3. ^ "Universities and Research Institutes". MBBM. Retrieved 7 July 2017. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°34′36″N 11°0′20″E / 49.57667°N 11.00556°E / 49.57667; 11.00556