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 nanobiophotonics research department studies plasmonic effects on nanoparticles and their application in resolving health and environmental issues. The main focus of their research can be described as molecular plasmonics. This includes developing the potential of hybrid nanostructures consisting of plasmonic nanoparticles with molecular components and their functional integration and use in microfluidic systems and microsystems. The physical effects that can be derived from the hybrid properties of such structures can either be active or passive in nature.
Passive molecular plasmonics comprises the use of such hybrid nanostructures as optical markers or sensors; however, the center of focus is on the development of methods for detection and identification of pathogen-relevant DNA molecules. The optimization of the synthesis of these structures, their biofunctionalization, and in particular the introduction of multiplex assays (i.e., the parallelized readout of plasmonic microarrays) are currently the scientific focus.
Active plasmonic elements make high-precision material processing or catalysis in the nanoscale range possible through the nanolocal release of heat and/or electrons. One objective includes the development of nanolocal excitation sources. In addition to basic research-oriented issues, the necessary enabling technologies are currently being established in particle design and molecular technology and, in particular, in the fields of microfluidics and microsystems technology. The development of microfluidic and microsystems technology components and methods also make system solutions for miniaturized analytics and diagnostics possible.