The European Education Directory

Qualification for a key 21st century industry: Master in Optical Technologies

By Dr. Jürgen Großmann
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

Master Programme in Advanced Optical Technologies (MAOT)


Optical Technologies as the key to industrial development

'Light can do far more than light up rooms: From scanners at check-out counters to the use of lasers in the automobile industry - the technical use of light has become part of our everyday life, often linked to electronics. There is currently no other usable medium which provides such a host of unique characteristics as light does. Light can be focused down to one millionth part of a millimetre - i.e. a nanometre. In this order of magnitude, words can be written on a hair by means of a laser. Light enables shortest pulses in the range of one trillionth of a second - i.e. one femtosecond. In such a fragment of a second, a laser beam can focus millions of megawatts which equals a thousand times the performance of a modern power plant. Light is the future!'


This is the opinion of the German Ministry of Education and Research ( Aware of the importance of optical technologies for industrial development in the 21st century, the German government has launched a programme for the support of research and development of activities in the field.

Company networks

One strand of this programme is the support of networks for companies in the optical industry all over Germany. The 'bayern photonics' network, which covers the region of Bavaria, stresses the importance of optical technologies for industrial development.

'In view of the worldwide turnover in the Optical Technologies industry, associations predict annual growth rates of between 10 and 20 percent. Even today, around 15 percent of jobs in the German manufacturing industry are directly or indirectly dependent on this key technology (…) approximately 1,000 medium-sized enterprises which operate in optical technologies and provide 36,000 jobs expect a growth of employment of over 40 percent by 2010. This corresponds to more than 15,000 new high-tech jobs.' (

Optical Technologies at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg

As part of these nationwide activities to support optical technologies, the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg designed an integrated strategy to combine a master programme and a Ph.D. school in advanced optical technologies. Due to the importance of the subject and the excellence of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in the field both components were selected for funding by the 'Elite network of Bavaria' of the Bavarian Government and the 'Excellence initiative' of the Federal Government.

MAOT – Master’s Programme

The MAOT course is a 2-year master’s course covering the most important topics in the application of optical technologies:
- optical metrology
- optics in communication
- optical material processing
- optical materials and system
- computational optics
- optics in medicine.

The interdisciplinary programme offers courses taught by lecturers from all fields of engineering, physics and medicine. It is open to applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree in physics or a relevant engineering subject. Students are given an introduction into all of the six main fields and can select three of those for in-depth study. The MAOT qualifies students for a high-level job in industry as well as for progression onto the Ph.D. programme to pursue an academic career. The MAOT is an international programme. It brings together students from all over the world and all courses are taught in English.


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