OCTmapp: German-Japanese Research Alliance for Biophotonics

The Fraunhofer-Institute for Production Technology (IPT) and the Tokyo Women’s Medical University with its Institute for Advanced Biomedical Engineering and Science (ABMES) as central research unit are cooperating since some time in the field of applied applications of imaging technologies in clinical routines. The project will build a permanent partnership platform by jointly establishing an Innovation Lab and a Competence Centre.

Hightech-Labor mit großem Bildschirm
OCTmapp in Tokyo © Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT


Activities of the research alliance revolve around 'Optical Coherence Tomography' (OCT) as an imaging technology used to visualise the structures of optical scattering media. The process is particularly suitable for examining organic tissue and for characterising tissue morphology thereby permitting cancer cells, for example, to be detected and diagnosed when the disease is still at an early stage. Although OCT technology is regarded as the 'gold standard' in disciplines such as ophthalmology, it has not yet successfully established itself in other areas of application, often as a result of a lack of reliable knowledge and suitable system design. Thus there is an urgent need for research and development in these areas. Potential areas of application for OCT technology are, therefore, currently being identified in the 'Optical Coherence Tomography for New Medical Applications', shortened to 'OCTmapp' research project. As a leading R&D hub and market in biomedicine, Japan is an ideal partner to advance in the OCT technology.

OCTmapp Logo
© OCTmapp

Project and Objectives

The first project phase (2017-2019) focused on the

  • establishment of an OCT Innovation Lab,
  • set-up of an OCT Competence Centre for applications in biomedicine, as an umbrella unit of the research alliance,
  • and networking to other cutting-edge research institutes such as University of Tsukuba and University of Nagoya in order to widen the research scope of the alliance to biophotonics in general.

Aspects of Research Structure

In the consolidation phase (2019-2022) legal and organisational issues of the above mentioned research units will be settled. Parallel the German partner aims to establish a Fraunhofer Project Center. The OCT technology will still play an important role in the R&D activities of the alliance. Besides, the wider range of potentials in biophotonics will be further explored with an ever growing research network. The visibility of OCTmapp will be enhanced by extending the website facilities, linking the public relations activities in Germany and Japan, organising congresses and workshops, and extending the networks towards the industry and funding agencies.

BMBF minister Anja Karliczek visited OCTmapp during her trip to Japan on 16 April 2019 in Tokyo.


Dipl.-Phys. Niels König
Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie
Tel: +49 241 8904 113

Contact person in Japan
Prof. Dr. Ken Masamune
Tokyo Women’s Medical University
Institute of Advanced Biomedical Engineering and Science

Funded in the context of the BMBF funding programme to establish joint research structures of German institutions with partners in the Asia-Pacific Research Area (APRA). more about APRA cooperation