40 Students Experience Biophotonics Live

Group photograph of the students at the Photonics Academy 2016 at BioQuant at the University of Heidelberg. (Source: VDI Technologiezentrum / S. Klübert, Location-Shoot-Design)

Group photograph of the students at the Photonics Academy 2016 at BioQuant at the University of Heidelberg. (Source: VDI Technologiezentrum / S. Klübert, Location-Shoot-Design)

Which optical technologies can be used to observe the smallest orders of life, to detect illnesses earlier than ever before, to understand their root causes and allow them to be prevented or even healed with light? And how does laser surgery on eyes actually work? Forty students looked into these questions and other exciting topics in Heidelberg at the Photonics Academy 2016 where the emphasis this year was on “biophotonics”.

The science and engineering students could take a look behind the scenes at companies, gaining fascinating insights into the latest research and development work, visiting institutes and research laboratories, and listening to tutorials and lectures by experts on the basic principles of modern biophotonics. Using state-of-the-art microscopy technologies, the students entered the minuscule molecular world of biological and biomedical processes and were introduced to various biophotonics applications in medical technology such as ophthalmology.

Hosting the Photonics Academy in its fifth year were the Institute of Physical Chemistry, BioQuant, and the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics of the University of Heidelberg.

“We want to give the students insight into the main focal points of current research in photonics in Heidelberg so that they can look around early on for top positions in biophotonics research,” said Prof. Dr. Dirk-Peter Herten of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the University of Heidelberg, explaining the intention behind the Photonics Academy.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Petrich of the Kirchhoff-Institute for Physics of the University of Heidelberg is pleased that the Photonics Academy was held in the Heidelberg region this year. “We were particularly keen to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial application. This year’s Photonics Academy in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region with its emphasis on biophotonics can then span the whole range from the fundamental theory, the latest papers, visits to companies and observation of applied research and development right through to “hands-on” experiments in biophotonics.”

From virtual eye surgery to optical nanoscopy by Nobel Prize winner Prof. Hell
Students visited the laboratories at BioQuant at the University of Heidelberg. (Source: VDI Technologiezentrum / S. Klübert, Location-Shoot-Design)

Students visited the laboratories at BioQuant at the University of Heidelberg. (Source: VDI-TZ / S. Klübert, Location-Shoot-Design)

The official start of the Photonics Academy 2016 was on Monday morning, with Dr. Eckart Würzner, Lord Mayor of the City of Heidelberg, Prof. Petrich and Prof. Herten opening the proceedings in the BioQuant institute on the University of Heidelberg campus.

The first company visits took place on Monday afternoon in Mannheim. The students attended exploratory workshops on light effects at the light consultancy enterprise Yoptilight and were then presented with the wider applications at Sentronics by way of optical processes for precision measurement in the chip industry. At VRmagic, a leading supplier of virtual reality and augmented reality simulators for medical training, the students had the chance to see how simulators are used to train surgeons how to perform eye operations and were allowed to try out the equipment.

The programme for Tuesday included a visit to the highly respected European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, followed by an excursion to the medical technology company Roche in Mannheim. There was a guided tour of the impressive premises and an innovation workshop for the students where the brief was to brainstorm their own ideas on developments which might facilitate everyday life for diabetics.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Hell, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014, explaining in an evening lecture how he defied an optical limit by taking a scientific sidestep. (Source: VDI-TZ / S. Klübert, Location-Shoot-Design)

Prof. Dr. Stefan Hell, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014, explaining in an evening lecture how he defied an optical limit by taking a scientific sidestep. (Source: VDI Technologiezentrum / S. Klübert, Location-Shoot-Design)

Finally, a Nobel Prize winner had been lined up to speak in the evening at Roche. Prof. Dr. Stefan W. Hell from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen spoke on “Optical Nanoscopy: Principles and Recent Advancements”, outlining the scientific sidestep which allowed him to get around Abbe’s diffraction limit. “Nature will allow us to transcend limits if we go about it in the right way,” said Hell in his lecture. “I wanted to exceed the limits of the optical microscope.” Prof. Hell stayed for an informal question and answer session over dinner where he was available, alongside scientists from research institutes and company bosses, to respond to the students’ questions.

On Wednesday at the University of Heidelberg campus, Volume Graphics gave an introduction to the analysis and visualization of data while other companies giving presentations and talks included Dioptic, Heidelberg Instruments and Wiley-VCH. The students were then split into groups and given the chance to look over the shoulders of research scientists in the BioQuant laboratories.

Thursday began with an excursion to Reutlingen to visit the innovative medical technology company Retina Implant, and to Oberkochen to visit Carl Zeiss.

At the final ceremony at BioQuant on 11 March, the students were presented with their attendance certificates by Baden-Württemberg Science Minister Theresia Bauer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Heidelberg Prof. Dr. Dieter W. Heermann, and Dr. Frank Schlie-Roosen, Head of “Photonics, Optical Technologies” at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and initiator of the Photonics Academy.

The Photonics Academy had premiered in 2012 and is an innovative week-long practical workshop for students with a specific interest in photonics. The aims are to raise awareness of photonics as a potential degree subject or career choice and to recruit new blood in the field. The Academy is part of Photonik Campus Deutschland – the joint recruitment initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the photonics sector. More than eighty partners, institutes and companies working in the field of photonics have taken part in the Academies to date. (Source: VDI)

Link: Photonics Academy

Speak Your Mind

*