The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) focuses on basic research into all aspects of the interaction between light and matter, from modern optics to photonics, quantum effects and their applications in the "real" world. It aims to extend the realm of the possible in the science and technology of light. MPL was founded in 2009 and is one of the 83 institutes that make up the Max Planck Society, whose mission is to conduct basic research in the service of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences and the humanities.
Optics in Erlangen has a long tradition both in the Natural Sciences and in Engineering. Already in 1868 the University of Erlangen appointed Eugen Lommel to a professorship, a scientist focussing on optics research. In the 1970s this tradition was perpetuated with the formation of the chair of optics under Prof. Adolf Lohmann. Laser research and its applications also gained increasing importance in the Engineering Faculty.
Based on this experience the Max Planck Research Group for Optics, Information and Photonics was established from 2003 to 2008. It was operated by the Friedrich-Alexander-University and co-financed by the Max Planck Society and the Free State of Bavaria. After a successful evaluation the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light was founded on 1 January 2009.
After celebrating the laying of the corner stone of the new building in July 2011 and the topping out ceremony in November 2014 the move will start in summer 2016. The new location is in Staudtstraße, close to the southern campus of the Friedrich-Alexander-University (FAU) in Erlangen.