Dr. Reinhard Völkel
CEO SUSS MicroOptics, Neuchâtel


Micro, Meta, Nano – the Planar Optics Revolution


Adolf W. Lohmann, the coinventor of the computer-generated holograms (CGH) in the 1960s, was a very early and strong promoter of “planar optics”. In one of my first ever optics lectures he stated: “Planar optics has the potential to replace a bulky and heavy telephoto lens with a thin light-weight element.” As often in history, not all predictions about the future have been realized. And technology development always takes much longer than expected.

My 500-mm telephoto lens is still heavy, but recently I bought the new version with integrated phase Fresnel (PF) optics, bringing down the weight from 3 to 1.5 kg. It took industry a bit longer than Adolf W. Lohmann had predicted, but as a photographer, diffractive optics - or planar optics - makes my life better.

Over the years optics has changed name to photonics. Micro-optics did not mute to nano-optics, but nano-photonics. Sub-wavelength optical elements are better known today as meta-lenses. Holography seemed to be dead - but celebrates a strong revival within the AR/VR/XR market today.

It's all planar optics, a revolutionary concept in photonics with still a lot of potential for innovation.


Executive with profound background in technology and digital. Strong interpersonal and networking skills, inspirational leadership, strategic thinking, and execution skills. Experienced with all stages of the development cycle of innovative startups, scaleups and tech companies.

Fellow SPIE, Senior Member OPTICA (OSA), EPIC CEO Award 2022, Swiss Manufacturing Award 2021, Expert Innosuisse, member of several industrial, conference and company boards.