You can download a detailed information about our historical development here (in German): pdf
Prof. Dr Hans Stamm, the founding rector of the College of Electrical Engineering, planned decisive expansions at the college from the very beginning. For their part, central planning bodies had also considered a modern engineering education for precision mechanics and optics. Since Thuringia had a long tradition in this field, it was decided to assign this training to Ilmenau. The corresponding structure of this new faculty of precision mechanics and optics, for which there was as yet no international model, was worked out by Prof. Stamm together with Prof. Werner Bischoff, who had been head of development at Carl-Zeiss-Werke Jena for many years. Prof. Bischoff was responsible for all research activities in the early days at the university. As Zeiss had a strong tradition in the field of light and colour measurement technology, the subject of light technology was also included in the concept of the Faculty of Precision Mechanics and Optics.
At the end of 1955, a Lighting Technology Department was initially founded, which was transformed into the Institute for Lighting Technology on 1.5.1956. Dr. Harald Beck was appointed professor with a teaching assignment at the request of the rector, Prof. Stamm. Prof. Harald Beck was also head of the Meiningen Institute for Plasma Technology at the same time.
Dipl.-Ing. Ernst Riemann was entrusted with the lighting technology lecture as early as 1957. As a student of Prof. Joachim Teichmüller, he had studied lighting technology in Karlsruhe. Before the Second World War, he was employed by OSRAM in the design of lighting systems. Ernst Riemann, appointed part-time professor at the Ilmenau Technical University in 1965, was the editor of the VEM Handbook of Lighting Technology, the standard book in the GDR.
Dr. Ernst Neumann from VEB Berliner Glühlampenwerk (BGW) was responsible for the lecture on light generation technology from 1963 to 1975. The doctor of physics worked in the field of fluorescent and high-pressure mercury lamps.
The lecture Light and Architecture was given by Prof. Kehler from the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Weimar. This lecture also attracted great interest from students from other disciplines. Prof. Beck was particularly proud that occasionally the renowned Prof. Eberhard Buchwald from the University of Jena gave guest lectures on colour theory.
For the Institute, many high-quality technical facilities and devices were purchased, often via the Institute in Meiningen, which was preferentially supplied. Prof. Beck's special organisational talent came into play in these actions and his privileges, which were anchored in his individual contract, also helped. Thus, within a very short time, a functioning institute was created.
As part of the collaboration in the working committee Optical Signals in Traffic, which was part of the central working group Lighting Technology, it was decided to design and build a colourimeter. This first tristimulus colourimeter in the GDR was then developed at the Institute of Light Technology. For this purpose, a spectrophotometric measuring station was first created with which the spectral sensitivities of the selenium photoelements (special elements from Zeiss) could be determined.
In December 1962, already after the Wall was built, Prof. Beck fled quite unexpectedly to West Germany, leaving the two institutes in Ilmenau and Meiningen orphaned.
Prof. Karl-Otto Frielinghaus, who headed the operations laboratory of the DEFA film studio in Babelsberg until 1964, was provisional director of the institute from 1965 to mid-1968. Many of the following works therefore had a strong connection to the film and television industry. Among other things, this involved studio and television lighting, as well as the quality of visual projectors (optical and lighting parameters).
Light measurement was seen as a perspective for the institute, especially colour and automated spectral measurement. The further development of the tristimulus colourimeter was at the forefront of the work. This appeared to be particularly important for the signal colour industry, signal body production for the NVA, the glass industry (Schott colour filters) and for projection optics. During this time, there were the first supply problems for material and equipment from West Germany. Some of the necessary measuring instruments had to be manufactured by the company itself, which in turn hindered efficient research.
On 1.3.1965, Dr. Manfred Riemann from the Institute in Meinigen came to Ilmenau as a scientific assistant. With him, scientific work was intensified. He promoted above all metrology and topics of light generation (plasma physics). The lectures on light and colour metrology and the physics and technology of gas discharges were now held by him.
After being appointed university lecturer, Dr. Manfred Riemann took over as director of the institute on 1.3.1968. Manfred Riemann began his professional career at Carl Zeiss Jena. This time had a strong influence on him. His profound knowledge in the field of optics and metrology resulted from this activity. Riemann's knowledge in the field of mixed plasmas was particularly in demand during the development of metal halide lamps at NARVA Berlin.
As part of the 3rd university reform, the existing faculties were transformed into sections. The Institute for Lighting Technology was incorporated into the Section for Physics and Technology of Electronic Components and disappeared as an independent institute. The "guest role" in electronics proved to be good in that the field of optoelectronics came into the field of vision of lighting technology. After the reform, research had its focus on optical topics for microelectronics.
Since 1973, the department has offered the Postgraduade study „Light Application“. It was conceived and organised by the staff member and later chair holder Dr. Dietrich Gall. The aim of the course is to train experts in the field of light application.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought many changes. As early as autumn 1989, contact was made with the lighting institutes in Karlsruhe and Berlin. There were mutual contacts and visits and a student exchange. In 1992, research results from the department were presented for the first time at the LICHT conference in Saarbrücken. In 1990, the Lighting Technology Department decided to move to the Equipment Technology Section, which later became part of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. There it was again together with the Optics Department, which was a good fit from a technical point of view. It shaped the special profile of the Ilmenau lighting engineers, with a constructive element in the training.
The first commissioned research for the lighting industry was carried out in 1991-1993, still in the unrenovated "Curie"-Building, which was the department's headquarters at the time. The psychological glare of various deep-beam luminaires with high luminance and the suitability of the UGR method for glare assessment were investigated.
In 1993, the department was able to move into a building in Unterer Berggraben. This meant that all the staff, now 10 in total, were finally united in one building again. The research focus was now in the areas of spatially resolved light measurement and the quality characteristics of lighting. In 1991, Prof. Riemann developed the idea of using image-resolving luminance measurement technology to measure luminous intensity distributions in the near field. Compared to far-field measurement, a significant advantage is the significantly reduced space requirement for the measuring device.
The Verein zur Förderung des Fachgebiets Lichttechnik VFL was founded in 1991 to support the field. Since then, the association has developed into an institution with around 100 personal and corporate members. During this time, it has not only supported the field financially, but also fostered a close connection with experts and committees.
Also in 1991, the Thuringia-North Hesse district group of the German Lighting Society (LiTG) was founded in Ilmenau. Together with this group, the department still organises a large number of lecture events, such as the Ilmenau Light Day, as well as conferences. One of the most successful is the Lux junior conference, which was launched in 1993 and takes place every two years.
Since 1993, the office of the then newly founded German Academy for Photobiology and Phototechnology (DAfP) has been located at the Department of Lighting Technology.
Prof. Manfred Riemann retired in 1995. He was succeeded by Prof. Dr. Dietrich Gall, who had been appointed professor in 1990 and had already been head of the department since 1994. At that time, Prof. Gall was also Vice-Rector for Science at the TU Ilmenau. From 1990 to 1994 he was president of the Ilmenau district and very active in local politics. For this commitment he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 1997.
Prof. Gall expanded the research focus to include psycho-physiological studies on the effect of lighting on human and its measurement. Within the framework of a research project, a luminance analyser was developed in 1993-1995 with which, among other things, the glare of luminaires (UGR values) can be measured. Other research topics included individual workplace lighting, light in connection with accidents and lighting for low visual requirements. Later, the topics of daylight and motor vehicle lighting were added.
With the advent of the light emitting diode for lighting purposes, but also for media technology, colourimetry and colour perception became increasingly important. The topic of "light and health" also played a role again and again; Dr. Joachim Fisch initiated a literature study on this in 2001. In the field of chronobiological light effects, Prof. Gall was one of the first to push this topic for light application. During Prof. Gall's leadership, the subject area continued to develop in line with current requirements. Under his leadership, countless student theses and 14 dissertations were written.
Prof. Gall retired in 2005. Dr. Cornelia Vandahl provisionally took over as head of the department. The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) attached great importance to the continuation of the chair and made a plea for it to the Rector. The Friends of the Department and many regional companies were similarly committed. At the end of 2005, the vacancy was advertised. The large number of applicants for the chair was proof that the department is recognised nationally and internationally.
Prof. Gall retired in 2005. Dr. Cornelia Vandahl provisionally took over as head of the department. The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) attached great importance to the continuation of the chair and made a plea for it to the Rector. The Friends of the Department and many regional companies were similarly committed. At the end of 2005, the vacancy was advertised. The large number of applicants for the chair was proof that the department is recognised nationally and internationally. In August 2006, the call went to Dr. Christoph Schierz from ETH Zurich.
After Prof. Dietrich Gall retired in 2015, the professorship was advertised again. In August 2006, the call went to Dr. Christoph Schierz. He studied physics at ETH Zurich, specialising in optics and atmospheric physics. He then worked at the Institute for Hygiene and Occupational Physiology at ETH Zurich. His dissertation there deals with the effect of light spectra on the visual process, a topic on the ergonomics of workplace lighting. Further studies on the interaction between light and humans followed. These, together with light and colour measurement technology, continue to form the research focus of the Lighting Technology Department today.
The application of the light-emitting diode (LED) for lighting purposes has brought forth many new research topics. On the one hand, the research tasks are of a technical nature, such as thermal management or optical light control. On the other hand, such LEDs are small but bright, can be flexibly changed in brightness and colour and have new light spectra. This requires new evaluation and measurement methods for lighting systems. Even the methods of photometry and colourimetry that have been fundamental for over 80 years are being called into question with the LED. To investigate all these aspects, the four German university lighting technology departments in Berlin, Darmstadt, Karlsruhe and Ilmenau joined forces in 2009 to form a joint BMBF-funded research project called "UNILED".
Successful cooperation with colleagues is also maintained in other projects. In Ilmenau, traditional research topics on colour rendering, glare assessment and colour or brightness homogeneity could thus be continued with subject tests and spatially resolved measurement technology. The UNILED project was successfully completed in 2014. The start of a new joint project UNILED2 with new focal points and company partners such as OSRAM (Augsburg), OSRAM-OS (Regensburg), TechnoTeam (Ilmenau), Diehl Aerospace (Nuremberg) and Zumtobel (Dornbirn) shows that the topics on LEDs are far from exhausted. Development projects in connection with LEDs can be found in company cooperations, for example on adaptive systems for car headlights, industrial hall lights, coloured light in aircraft cabins, for lighting wet roads or for lighting on electric bicycles.
In 2008, the 18th LICHT joint conference of the German-speaking lighting societies was held in Ilmenau. More than 450 participants learned about the latest developments in lighting technology, such as lamps, indoor and outdoor lighting, light immissions, economy, health, light and age, colour design or automotive lighting. Many also visited the parallel exhibition "Fascination of Colour - Fascination of Light".
In the course of the spatial concentration of university units, the Lighting Technology Department was able to move into the building called "Helios" in 2008. This not only provides an appropriate name for the department, but also expanded the now cramped space at Unterer Berggraben. At present, 3 scientific and 3 technical-administrative staff members as well as 2 doctoral students work at the department. In addition, there are 8 external doctoral students who work for company partners but are supervised by the Department of Lighting Technology. Prof. Schierz and his staff continue to uphold the tradition of active participation in technical and standardisation committees, which benefits the reputation of the department and its work.