Laser Technology and Optical Industry

Laser technology is one of the markets with extraordinarily strong growth. Several factors are driving this trend: on the one hand, a need for precise and flexible production processes down to micrometer and nanometer precision and, on the other, market-specific requirements for higher individualization of products. Efficient manufacturing processes, powerful beam sources and process-adapted optical systems are required in various sectors, from automotive engineering through medical and energy technology to electronics. Fraunhofer ILT ranks among the top addresses for the development of innovative laser-beam sources and high-quality optical components and systems. One of its core competencies is lasers with spatially, temporally and spectrally tailor-made radiation and output powers from microwatts to gigawatts. It provides suitable solutions for laser manufacturers, system integrators or laser users.

Fraunhofer ILT covers the entire spectrum of laser beam sources from diode lasers, to fiber lasers all the way to solid-state lasers. In particular, the institute develops ultrashort pulse lasers with outputs up into the kilowatt range – an expertise in such high demand that it will result in novel manufacturing solutions in the future.

The core element of a powerful laser application is often process-adapted beam-guidance and beam-shaping elements. Here too, Fraunhofer ILT develops application-adapted processing optics with a flexibly tunable beam shape, multi-beam systems for parallel processing and fast scanner systems for additive manufacturing and surface structuring.

For new applications – such as free-space data transmission, terrestrial and satellite-based monitoring of climate gases and quantum technology – Fraunhofer ILT offers tailor-made solutions such as narrow-band laser sources, single-photon sources or XUV lasers for semiconductor technology and basic research.

A new generation of high-power ultrafast lasers for industry and research

In the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS, 13 Fraunhofer Institutes bundle their expertise for the development of laser systems that reach highest powers with ultrashort pulses and the exploration of their application potentials. The Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena contribute their competence in the development of high-power ultrafast lasers, which is combined in the cluster with the expertise of other Fraunhofer Institutes in the fields of systems technology and applications.

Ultrafast lasers, with their very high intensity and very short pulses, can process materials with high precision. Compared to conventional industrial lasers, they allow almost unlimited three-dimensional structuring of any material. In Fraunhofer CAPS, the partners are building a basis for economical throughputs in ultrahigh precision manufacturing. The precision and quality achieved provides the competitive edge over almost any other technique. Hence, ultrafast lasers are the most versatile, wear-free tools for future digital photonic production.

Quantum bits for the fiber optic network

Optical components in a nonlinear interferometer for quantum imaging.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany / Volker Lannert.
Optical components in a nonlinear interferometer for quantum imaging.

Connecting quantum computers over long distances using optical fibers and paving the way for the quantum internet: With this goal the Dutch research center QuTech and Fraunhofer ILT launched the ICON project QFC-4-1QID in 2019. The project marks the start of a long-term, strategic partnership between the research institutions, in which quantum frequency converters will initially be developed for connecting quantum processors to fiber optic networks. The new technology will be used in 2022 in what is expected to be the world's first quantum internet demonstrator.

The quantum processors deployed in the Netherlands are based on diamond chips with defects systematically integrated into the crystal lattice, the so-called nitrogen vacancies or NV centers. These qubits emit photons with a wavelength of 637 nm. In order to be able to connect quantum computers over long distances with low loss using optical fibers in the future, the wavelength of the photons must be converted to the range of optical telecommunications bands (1,500 nm to 1,600 nm). In the project, the partners are investigating various design concepts with regard to the achievable performance characteristics and their suitability for use in the quantum internet demonstrator.

Projects with participation of the Fraunhofer ILT

Strategic Fraunhofer Projects

A selection of strategic projects involving the Fraunhofer ILT can be found on our cluster website.

Current Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Completed Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of completed collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Annual Report

In our current annual report you will find a selection of further project results.

Contact Research & Development

Prof. Arnold Gillner

Head of department “Business Development Research Markets”


Telefone +49 241 8906-148
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Prof. Carlo Holly

Head of department “Data Science and Measurement Technology”


Telefone +49 241 8906-142
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Dr.-Ing. Christian Vedder

Head of department “Surface Technology and Ablation” 


Telefone +49 241 8906-378
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Dr. rer. nat. Achim Lenenbach

Head of department “Laser Medical Technology and Biophotonics”


Telefone +49 241 8906-124
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Dr.-Ing. Alexander Olowinsky

Head of department “Joining and Cutting” 


Telefone +49 241 8906-491
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Dr.-Ing. Thomas Schopphoven

Head of department “Laser Material Deposition”


Telefone +49 241 8906-8107
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Tim Lantzsch M. Sc.

Head of department “Laser Powder Bed Fusion” 


Telefone +49 241 8906-193
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Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

Head of department “Laser and Optical Systems”


Telefone +49 241 8906-206
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