August 2019
The Optics Center Wetzlar is being successively built up and expanded. (Photo: Ralf A.Niggemann)
Optikzentrum Wetzlar

On the Move

The Optics Center Wetzlar was opened in December 2018. Setting up business is in full swing, the first development cooperations with companies from the region have been initiated.

In 2015, the TH Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences for Central Hessen (THM) and the Wetzlar Network started an initiative with the key players from the regional economy in order to strengthen the field of competence Optical Technologies. The initiative led to the creation of an endowed professorship for Optics and Optical Technologies at the THM and a user center for Optical Technologies.

The Optics Center Wetzlar which was opened in December 2018 is an important component of the new structure. It is headed by Prof. Dr. Markus Degünther, endowed professor for Optics and Optical Technologies at the THM. Since January 2019, an employee has assisted him in setting up the Optics Center. Together they set the course for integrating it into the education of young scientists. For example, it is intended to involve the Optics Center in the practical training of students before they even begin the new study program “Master of Optical System Engineering”. In addition to that, the Optics Center has already taken up supervising graduations.

Development cooperations with companies in the region

Apart from integrating the Optics Center in research and teaching, professor Degünther actively furthers development cooperations with companies, in particular ones which are also located in the region. Two specific projects are now ready to start: the development of an ultra-fast X-ray camera with Brückmann Elektronik in Lahnau and the development of a precision measuring system based on a new wavefront sensor by the DIOPTIC company in Weinheim. In both cases, the ELI-Beamlines Institute in the Czech Republic is an important initiator and development partner. The two projects are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its program “Internationalization of High-End Clusters”.

Around € 900,000 pour from this project funding into the work of the Optics Center. “The projects and their funding are geared towards a period of 3 years. Our task is to function as interface between research and industry as well as to drive the progress of developments and provide help in governing the projects between the development partners,” Degünther explains. Along with that, human and technological resources shall be established and expanded successively in relation to the corresponding project but also in accordance with application-oriented fundamental research. “In the long term, the target is to pool different work groups under the roof of the Optics Center which will cover different specific fields of competence in the optics and optical technologies sector.”

Projects with with companies and universities in preparation

Further projects in cooperation with companies and universities but also with non-university research institutes are at the planning stage respectively. What is more, it is intended to increase the expertise represented in the Optics Center by cooperating with institutes inside and outside of the Research Campus of Central Hessen. “The interest in the Optics Center is already strong,” Professor Degünther is pleased to say, “and the possibilities which arise for potential development cooperations in this context are enormous.”