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Key research areas

Fluidic micro-optics

TubeInPaperThe Gisela and Erwin Sick Chair for Micro-optics is one of the internationally leading laboratories researching liquid optics and optofluidics. We have developed a wide spectrum of fluidic optical systems including all-liquid lenses and multi-lens systems; hydraulically and pneumatically tunable membrane-based liquid lenses; tunable fluidic irises, shutters and apertures; fluidic optical routers; and tunable achromatic and hyperchromatic lenses. One of our recent highlights was the demonstration of an all-liquid tunable optical zoom.

Our current research focusses strongly on the development of fluidic optical systems with high functionality for high-quality optical imaging and wavefront correction. Through iterative optical design, dynamic aberration correction, and realization of orientation-independence, we aim to conceive new generations of diffraction-limited fluidic imaging systems. 

Endoscopic micro-optics

OCTTunable micro-optics opens new opportunities for medical diagnostics, and we are developing highly functional optical microsystems for endoscopic imaging. Combining classic optical imaging with optical coherence tomography (OCT); fluorescence microscopy; confocal microscopy; and Raman spectroscopy, we have developed highly-functional multi-modal imaging tools suitable for endoscopic integration. Through development of novel scanner technologies, we have demonstrated a variety of micro-optical systems which allow lateral, transverse, rotational and axial scanning of the measurement beam.

Through extensive collaboration with clinical and industrial partners, domestically and internationally, our multi-modal systems are now being employed in medical diagnostics and clinical imaging. These new generations of optical systems will provide entirely new capabilities for medical instrumentation.

Tunable micro-optics

Zoom photoBuilding on a long tradition of our research on novel means for tuning the characteristics of micro-optical components, we have established new technologies for realizing a wide variety of tunable devices and systems. These include focus-tunable aspherical micro-lenses with diffraction-limited performance; aberration-tunable liquid lenses; and transmissive adaptive optics for high-order wavefront correction.

In addition to established tuning actuation techniques such as electrowetting; hydraulics; pneumatics; piezoelectrics and electrostatics, we are also developing micro-structurable artificial muscles and incorporating these into micro-fabricated optics. In close collaboration with partners in Chemistry, we are one of the leading research groups in the application of liquid crystal elastomers.

Sensor micro-optics

Perfusion HeadThe sensor applications of micro-optics represent a significant focus in our projects, with medical but also many other applications. Through a decade-long collaboration with partners in the Freiburg University Medical Center, we have developed novel implantable sensors, designed to allow continuous, high-resolution measurement of blood pressure and oxygenation, as well as hemoglobin and gas concentrations. We have also developed entirely new concepts for all-polymer integrated-optical chemical and temperature sensors.

Our current focus is on researching new approaches for ultra-miniaturized spectroscopy in the mid-IR for spatially-resolved spectral monitoring of chemical reactions and developing means for all-optical temperature and distance measurements in the harsh environment of endoscopic surgery.


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