Optical Designers – or Inventors?

Working at ZEISS

Markus is an optical designer at ZEISS Corporate Research and Technology. He gave us some exclusive insights into his exciting line of work at ZEISS Optical Design Days. Want to know why optical design is such an exciting job that constantly makes use of new findings? Read the interview to find out.

Markus, you’re an optical designer. Can you briefly explain what it is you do?
Optical designers create, calculate and simulate arrangements of mirrors, lenses and other optical components found inside optoelectronic products. These include medical devices and microscopes as well as optics for chip production and measuring machines used to optically measure surfaces – and much more besides. We are in close contact with scientists, engineers and ever more IT engineers who ensure networking for digital optical devices.



What makes optical design such a fascinating job?

I believe there are three main aspects to this: diversity, creativity and a high degree of communication. Optical design is highly interdisciplinary. Optical designers, production and software engineers, as well as people with in-depth knowledge of customer requirements all work together very closely. That’s what makes this job so interesting – and while optics is an old science, it still continues to develop very dynamically to this day as new optical components and technologies are being developed all the time. New components like these include image sensors with ever higher resolutions and brighter light sources. New technologies such as the 3D printing of optics are also appearing, so  optical design is developing new knowledge all the time. Many optical designers at ZEISS also double up as inventors and have worked on numerous ZEISS patents.

Can you give us some examples of projects that ZEISS optical designers are working on?

ZEISS offers optical designers like us a broad product portfolio of exciting projects: for example, we are developing new microscopy system concepts that will increase resolution and measuring speed. In medical technology, we are increasing the number of beam paths in surgical microscopes to provide doctors with additional information during surgery – that’s how we help doctors deliver better treatments. Semiconductor manufacturing focuses on designing optics for the lithography production of ever more powerful microchips that truly push the limits of what is technically feasible. We also develop optics used in measuring machines to enable the non-contact measurement of surfaces. There is a whole host of exciting areas for optical designers.


What skills do applicants need in order to work as optical designers at ZEISS?
Enthusiastic, imaginative students of physics, mathematics as well as engineers who enjoy contributing to the technological progress of ZEISS optics see optical design as an exciting career prospect. Curiosity and creativity help people discover new and alternative system concepts. It’s just as important that they enjoy working with a computer, as we use computer simulations to optimize and assess the performance of optical systems. And since the road to finding a solution can sometimes be strewn with obstacles, endurance and persistence are essential. In short, we welcome lateral thinkers who, in the face of difficulties, are inspired to look for new ways to develop and are therefore keen to shape the future of optics at a globally operating tech company.



Can you say a few words about the qualities of an optical designer?

An optical designer will never give up if an optic does not work as per a computer simulation. Optical designers are also great communicators. They can easily talk to the project team as well as to mechanical designers, the production technologist, other optical designers and, of course, with customers.

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