Photonics is a strongly growing sector of the economy and a major research area in Europe. In Thuringia and in particular in Jena, the scientific and industrial location is shaped by universities, research institutes and companies in the field of optics and photonics. While the number of young, well-trained female graduates is high, women who hold a leading position in academia and high-tech industry are still underrepresented.
The research focus includes molecular plasmonics and the development of the potential of plasmonic effects on hybrid nanostructures of molecular elements with chemically-synthesized metal elements for use in biophotonics. The design and synthesis of metal nanoparticles and nanostructures with desired and defined optical properties (localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR)) in combination with (bio)molecular components (e.g., DNA) forms the technological basis of this research focus. The functional nanostructures produced can be passive or active in nature and allow applications in two different directions: for one, the more passive application of plasmonic nanostructures as optical markers and sensors. In sensor technology, plasmonic nanostructures act as optical signal converters. These nanostructures allow applications in medical diagnostics, food and water analysis, and environmental technology issues. For another, active nanostructures can serve as optical antennae and convert incident energy that can be used for the targeted manipulation of biomolecules and for applications in catalysis and material processing.