Renewal of SAOT Successful

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President FAU Professor Grüske and Coordinator SAOT Professor Leipertz

The SAOT has been established at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in November 2006 within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments for the Promotion of Science and Research at German Universities. The SAOT project was selected within a strong competition in which 580 proposals were submitted by more than 80 of the 120 eligible universities in Germany. Only 78 of the proposals were approved, and only 11 of these were related to the engineering sciences

For the second five-year funding period beginning in 2012, 143 proposals were short-listed out of a similar number of proposals as in the first round of applications. 84 applications for continued support and 59 new proposals were approved for the final decision. Funding was granted altogether for 63 Graduate Schools (38 old / 25 new) and 64 Excellence Clusters (37 old / 27 new). The SAOT was able to assert itself successfully in this competitive situation and will be supported for another five years until 2017.

The SAOT offers an excellent, interdisciplinary research and education programme within a broad international network with worldwide recognized experts for the promotion of innovations and leadership competence in the areas of optical metrology, optical material processing, optics in medicine, optics in communication and information technologies, optical materials and systems and computational optics.

The outstandingly motivated and dynamic international doctoral candidates, who can become members of the SAOT in a stringent selection process – currently about 130 candidates and so far about 30 successfully completed, high quality doctoral degrees – work principally at the interfaces between the disciplines physics, medicine and engineering. They are pesently supervised by over 50 full-time professors of the FAU, assisted by almost 20 long-term guest professors from highly respected foreign research establishments (with 14 of which the SAOT has signed cooperation agreements). Among the guest professors are five winners of the SAOT Young Researcher Award which is presented annually in a stiff international contest between high-performance young scientists. The prize money of 100,000 € must be used in cooperation with SAOT scientists in Erlangen. The active integration of the doctoral researchers in the international network and its further expansion is one of the most important aspects of all the SAOT endeavours. The positive result of these collaborations manifests itself in a large number of different successes achieved in the past five years.

  • more than 1500 refereed publications – doctoral researchers of the SAOT participated in more than 600 of these papers, of which furthermore more than 250 were published with foreign co-authors
  • more than 130 prizes and distinctions for SAOT members, over 70 of them awarded to doctoral researchers
  • more than 250 international guests at the SAOT, who passed on their experience to the doctoral researchers in discussions, with over 100 talks in the SAOT seminar series and sometimes through longer stays at the SAOT
  • Doctoral researchers spent more than 600 weeks in scientific research activity at overseas partner institutes. The average period until now was about 10 weeks per researcher; in the future at least 12 weeks will be the objective.
  • Doctoral researchers were involved in 10 patent applications.

Alongside structural improvements and extension of the international cooperation, in the coming 5-year funding period education and research into optical technologies in the life sciences will be intensified. This will constitute a highly topical and especially interdisciplinary application field.

Success announcement

In the coming period of support, the SAOT programme will become even more attractive for outstandingly motivated and dynamic international doctoral candidates. This will be achieved mainly by the introduction of a fast track programme to accelerate the doctoral degree procedure as well as with a double degree programme, for which contracts with the Ryerson University in Toronto will soon be signed. By establishing the Post-Doctoral Medical Research Center (PMRC) and the Optical Imaging Center Erlangen (OICE) education and research will be strengthened in the very interdisciplinary area of application of the life sciences, so that excellent leadership personnel trained in the SAOT will be available in the future in this rapidly growing sector.

For the end of the second funding phase in 2017 it is our vision to have built up by then an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the field of optical technologies with its own personnel and facility structure within the university, permitting a worldwide competence to be established in all key aspects of SAOT’s work.