Department of Microsystems Engineering

Department of Microsystems Engineering

The IMTEK, the Department of Microsystems Engineering from the University of Freiburg, develops tunable micro-lenses, micro-mirrors, and other micro-opto-mechanical components, which they assemble into complex optical microsystems, predominantly for use in medical applications. Especially the Laboratory for Micro-Optics is established as one of the leading research groups in tunable micro-optics and micro-optics for medical diagnostics.

Within Photonics4Life, IMTEK conducts basic studies and developments for minimally invasive, extremely miniaturized endoscopic probes for biomedical applications. The probes will feature at least three functionalities as 3D shape sensing, imaging and 3D tomography. Special application fields are otology, especially ear implants and gastroenterology, in particular submucoase in small channels.

The IMTEK is one of about 100 departments of the University of Freiburg and is Europe’s largest MEMS research department with 21 MEMS professors, more than 200 MEMS researchers and over 400 MEMS students. The department encompasses nearly all technical fields relevant to the highly interdisciplinary world of microsystems technology.

Laboratory for Micro-optics

The laboratory for micro-optics is one of the 20 different labs at IMTEK with a special focus on tunable optical components and devices for a wide field of applications. The research comprises design and simulation as well as technology developments, fabrication and characterization of single components, assembly and packaging up to prototyping including system metrology.

Head of the laboratory is Prof. Hans Zappe. The lab is divided into two groups: One group focuses on photonic crystals and electro wetting technology, PD Dr. Wolfgang Mönch is responsible for these topics. Dr. Andreas Seifert manages the other group with biomedical projects and developments for tunable micro-lenses and micro-mirrors. Currently 13 PhD students, additionally several diploma, bachelor and assistant students are involved in the research programs.

Main focus of current research topics

Endoscopic OCT:
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technique allowing non-destructive imaging below the surface of tissue. We have developed an ultra-miniaturized OCT system suitable for use in an endoscope, to allow non-invasive medical diagnostics in, for example, the gastro-intestinal system or during keyhole surgery. Using two-dimensional scanning micro-mirrors and tunable micro-lenses, the 3 mm diameter system attains very high lateral resolution despite its compact dimensions.

Implantable oxygen sensor:
Continuous in vivo monitoring of blood oxygenation, pressure, and pulse, as well as the concentration of trace gasses in blood or perfusion in tissue, is of considerable clinical importance. We have developed a number of implantable micro-optical sensors for these measurements and demonstrated their utility and performance in experimental clinical trials. These biocompatible sensors measure numerous physiological parameters simultaneously, using techniques such as multi-wavelength absorption spectroscopy and new approaches for continuous blood pressure measurement.

Tunable photonic crystals:
Photonic crystals are novel periodic structures which exhibit an optical bandgap and are thus of considerable relevance for guiding and switching light in new-generation optical systems. We are advancing the capabilities of these devices by making photonic crystals tunable, using our competence in soft-matter micro-optics combined with new developments in optical polymers and novel actuation mechanisms.


IMTEK - Institut für Mikrosystemtechnik
Georges-Köhler-Allee 106
D-79110 Freiburg



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