Specific optical systems for customers are developed in the Leitz Optic Center. (Images: Ralf A. Niggemann)
Specific optical systems for customers are developed in the Leitz Optic Center. (Images: Ralf A. Niggemann)

Leica Microsystems

Leitz Optic Center

It was Ernst Leitz who set the example of creating and harnessing expertise by working with the user for the user. This fine tradition is being continued by the Leitz Optic Center, where Leica Microsystems plans to focus more closely on offering specific solutions for OEM customers.

Looking back, it is hard to say which came first. Was it research that spurred the dramatic advances in microscopy in the 19th century? Or was it the other way round? Right from the beginning, Ernst Leitz I was famously instrumental in pioneering the technical and optical development of the microscope, keeping a firm eye on the scientific possibilities of his time. And the deeper scientists probed into the world of microorganisms, the more powerful microscopes had to be. At any rate, the two seemed to have formed a symbiosis at Leitz, nurtured by the special efforts of the company’s owner: Using his close contacts in science and research, Ernst Leitz implemented innovations that made his company a world market leader: “With the User – For the User”.

As the name suggests, the Leitz Optic Center aims to carry on this tradition. However, its agenda deliberately embraces a broader perspective than that of microscopy alone: “The designs of our optics and systems draw on an outstanding wealth of experience. We are able to play these trump cards in customer-specific projects and plan to play them even more often in future,” declares Raimund Bayer, who already supervises many projects from the Leitz Optic Center in his capacity as OEM manager.

Added value for research and other areas of business

One of the key focuses are the excellent fields of research in life sciences, where the added value of specific microscopy solutions plays no small part in achieving groundbreaking results. Hardly anyone knows this better than the Nobel laureate in Chemistry, 2014, Prof. Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen: “The cooperation and personal trust that arose over the years isn’t something one can replace easily. Also, Leica was one of the very few companies with the technical expertise required to take my results in optical nanoscopy basic research and transfer them to instruments that can be used by anyone."

This experience and expertise are also available to sectors of industry and areas of business that are not primarily concerned with microscopy but require high-quality optomechanical and optoelectronic microscope components. Here too, the special production unit of the Leitz Optic Center can swiftly and reliably identify the best solutions for individual customer needs. “Our OEM customers benefit from the superb quality of our products and from the unique resources of our R&D, engineering, production and logistic departments as well as our worldwide service network,” stresses Dr. Claus Gunkel, Operations Manager.

High precision, process quality and state-of-the-art production technology

Expertise, transparency and a partnership of equals ensure high performance and quality. The Leitz Optic Center offers everything from a single source, cooperating with the customer from the design process already all the way through to the finished product. This means that all the relevant interfaces can be considered to enable optimal integration of optomechanical or optoelectronic systems, whether in scientific research or the consumer goods industry. High precision and process quality deliver top-class optical products. State-of-the-art production technology, an efficient and transparent workflow and consistent quality control guarantee the high quality standards that customers of Leica Microsystems and Leitz have come to expect.

The range extends from lenses and prisms through mirrors and filters all the way to complete optical systems developed and designed to the specifications of the particular customer. Also, Leitz guarantees absolutely homogenous coatings with cut-off filter tolerances of under 3 nanometers. The thickness of each coating can vary from a few nanometers to several micrometers with more than 100 separate layers per surface. These are applied by advanced high-vacuum coating systems using PE-PVD technology (Plasma-Enhanced Physical Vapor Deposition). A customized coating design comprises anti-reflection, laser-protection and mirror coatings from UV to IR. If required, the glass surfaces are pre-treated with an ion-beam superfinish. The measurement technology allows the qualification of lambda/40 surfaces.

Convincing arguments that count in specific customer projects

Thanks to the precise specifications and minimum tolerances in the manufacturing process, the optical components can be seamlessly integrated into complex sub-assemblies. This is a particular advantage for specific customer projects. The know-how and skills to develop and produce suitable optics for numerous applications – and even systemic solutions for which there is no already existing model to follow in this form – culminate in the Leitz Optic Center. As pioneers in the field of optic systems for semiconductor inspection, metrology, life science research, quality control, the medical industry and spectroscopic analysis, Leitz and Leica Microsystems are the ideal partners in such cases.

“These are convincing arguments for our existing and new OEM customers,” says Raimund Bayer. In February, the Leitz Optic Center presented its products and services at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, at the beginning of March at the W3+ FAIR in Wetzlar. They are the same arguments that not only attract new business but also determine the success of each project implementation. With the user, for the user – a key principle for customer-specific projects in particular and one that distinguishes the Leitz Optic Center in many respects.


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With the User ? For the User: Dr. Claus Gunkel (right) and Siegbert Velten.
With the User For the User: Dr. Claus Gunkel (right) and Siegbert Velten.