Treballs de recerca – First research project

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

Do you want to investigate light and its properties? Look at all the opportunities we offer you: there must be one that you like!

Don’t forget that you can present your project to the Young Photonics Congress organized by ICFO.

Hands-on Activities

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:


Light is a powerful tool to understand the microscopic structure of matter: in this activity, a macroscopic model will introduce you to  the basic principle of the X-Ray diffraction that is at the basis of many important scientific discoveries, like the DNA double-helix structure. This activity will be available only in months of February and March 2019.


This kind of 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.


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. This assures a brilliant future for this technology.
In this activity, you can make some graphene and then observe it with the microscope.


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.


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.


Lasers are very versatile tools that are at the core of many present technologies: that’s one of the reasons why photonics is so important for our lives. In this activity you can use a laser to measure very small things like the diameter of a hair or the size of the holes in a CD. You can also measure the distance of an object.


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 can’t find something that you like or there are no suitable dates in the calendar, we’ll try our best to find something that matches your interests!

Talk to a researcher

If your research project is related to one of the topics that we research here at ICFO and you have some specific questions that some of our researchers may be able to answer, we can put you in contact with her/him!

Summer stages

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


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.


Young Photonics Congress

A scientific meeting point for young students ICFO annually organizes the Young Photonics Congress, a meeting point for young students that makes them live the experience of a scientific congress where the spotlight is on them. Students can explain their work to other...

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Books and stories

Creating publications for different audiences ICFO reaches out to all ages through books and other publications that aim at immersing readers in the fascinating world of photonics.   FROM THE BIG BANG TO LASER EXPLORERS IN SPACE lluminado and Lucilda is a series...

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Science through other disciplines ICFO creates multidisciplinary contests that encourage participants to get inmersed in the fascinating world of science and photonics through literature, music and the audiovisual arts. Light on the Waves integrates science,...

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Informative panels, posters and interactive installations to bring science and photonics closer to society ICFO creates exhibitions in different formats about Photonics and its applications, conceived and designed to capture attention, raise interest and increase the...

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Magic Shows for Light Explorers

Learning about photonics in a magical way Light, its nature and its properties are as amazing as they are useful. In our daily life, the things we do, the objects we use, how we generate and harness energy, the way we communicate and how we take care of our health,...

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ICFO in fairs and other big events

ICFO participates in science and technology fairs, congresses and other events organized by other organizations with the aim of expanding the reach of our outreach efforts. We create hand-on activities, workshops and intearctive stands and give talks that bring a...

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Challenges to leveraging innovation

ICFO organizes photonics challenges to promote the opportunities that photonics pose to innovation ICFO creates challenges that give participants the chance to use their own creativity to design, build and test solutions that integrate photonics. These projects are...

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Workshops: putting photonics to work

Hands on activities customized for target audiences ICFO creates workshops around different STEM topics underlying photonics for different age groups. These hands on activities enable participants to learn about photonics in fun ways. They vary in content and format...

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Guided visits to ICFO

A scientific meeting point for young students ICFO opens its door to interested people, who can visit ICFO's facilities. Visitors will discover the latest advances in the field of photonics developed at ICFO, they will acquire interesting information about the physics...

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