High school research projects

Discover how ICFO can help you with your project:
there are many opportunities waiting for you!

At ICFO, we use photons to better understand our world and to generate new technologies to improve our society. If you want to do the same, you can start from these photonics-related projects that we have selected for you.

We also provide you with a selection of links to bright ideas that may inspire you to create new projects.

If you have already your idea, but you need to clarify some doubts, we can put you in contact with some photonics experts that can answer your questions.

Please let us know how it went: share your project on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ICFOoutreach or show us the result at the Young Photonics Congress organized by ICFO.

photonics projects

Here you can find a selection of hands-on activities related to different aspects of optics and photonics.

Each activity takes place at ICFO, it lasts approximately 2 hours and it is open to small groups of up to 3 students.

You can come here to experiment with us and learn some technique or experiment that can be the basis of an original and creative research project. We hope you’ll come back and show us what you did at the Young Photonics Congress.

You can choose among these projects:


The Michelson interferometer was designed more than one hundred years ago to find the answer to one fundamental question of physics: is the space completely empty or filled with ether? More recently, in 2015, they used this same kind of interferometer to observe gravitational waves for the first time. In this activity, you can build a Michelson interferometer with your own hands.


The counter-intuitive properties of quantum physics allow us to develop interesting applications, like ultra-secure communications. In this activity, you’ll learn some basic concepts about quantum physics and you will learn the simplest way to send a secret message thanks to quantum physics (BB84 protocol) through a practical activity with laser and polarizers.


Graphene is an amazing material. This 2D material has a one-atom thick carbon structure that is 200 times stronger than steel, but is at the same time transparent and very light, presenting extraordinary electrical and thermal properties. All these characteristics in just one material make graphene a very promising tool for the development of new technologies.
In this activity, you can make some graphene and then observe it with the microscope.


Diffraction patterns reveal information about the microscopic structure of the materials that light traversed, with important scientific and technological applications. With this activity, you will be able to observe the diffraction patterns created by different structures and measure the size of a very small object, such as the diameter of a hair.


There is a lot of information in the color composition of a light source: scientists all around the world use it for different purposes and applications, from food safety to understanding the chemical composition of the farthest objects in the Universe. In this activity, you will build your own spectrometer to compare different light sources.


A Schlieren camera allows us to see changes in the refraction index that are impossible to see with our bare eyes. In this project you can learn how to build one and see the invisible.


Optical fibers are at the core of the internet as we know it now: if we hadn’t these channels to transport light from one corner to the other of our planet, we wouldn’t be able to exchange information so rapidly. With this activity you can learn how to put light into a fiber.

If you have in mind some other photonics-related project or you can’t find a suitable date in the calendar, just contact us!

bright IDEAS

Do you want to research light and its properties, but you don’t know where to start from?
Here you’ll find some resources to inspire you for your next project.

Photonics experts

If your research project is related to one of the topics that we research here at ICFO, we can put you in contact with one of our researchers.

Summer stages

Students can have the possibility of a summer stage at ICFO by applying to one of these programs:


Young Photonics Congress 2024

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