All physicists know how a rainbow comes to be, and how nuclear fusion occurs. They're the ones who can explain black holes and white dwarfs. They develop kilometer-long particle accelerators and produce nanometer-sized transistors. Around 3,000 physicists qualify every year: around half of them go on to work in research, while the other half head to industry. And the best of the bunch will meet again at ZEISS. Ella is confident of this.
Twenty years ago, no one thought we would ever be able to get EUV lithography off the ground – or that there would even be a dedicated market for it.
"We're quite a special little group," she says, smiling as she thinks about her career thus far. They're neither as explosive as chemists nor as design-focused as mechanical engineers. But they do stick together, and they have a shared understanding of the world. And here at ZEISS they can pursue a joint aim: "Twenty years ago, no one thought we would ever be able to get EUV lithography off the ground – or that there would even be a dedicated market for it. But today we're enabling digital progress through this very technology," says Ella describing her mission.
Officially, Ella is a software developer. She programs tools in the field of metrology development. Specifically, she works on applications used to inspect lithography optics. And she does this for one of world's most precise structures. That is, for mirrors that are used to produce the latest – and future – chip generations. These mirrors pass through a host of test beds, and Ella is on hand to ensure the software works just so, to make sure they will be as perfect as can be. She measures temperatures, times, reflections and the movements of actuators.
Truth be told, Ella is much more than "just" a software developer. "We also act as pioneers, if you will," she says. "As software developers, we're responsible not only for our own code, but also for the environment in which our applications are deployed. And as developers, we also take on a secondary role as multipliers for agile forms of working. Applications and processes that work for us double up as great examples for other teams at the segment to follow." And in order to further advance the agile transformation, Ella works with her colleagues on flexible scrum teams. "It works really well, even if I'd like us to have another couple of female colleagues on the team. Slowly but surely, however, the number of women working in software development is actually on the rise, which is excellent," says Ella.
So how did Ella come to be a physicist? "That's an easy one," she says. "I wanted to understand the world we live in. And physics offers us an in-depth understanding of all the processes happening around us – and even some philosophical questions. I just love those moments of clarity, when we can use physics to find answers to complicated questions." After studying in Karlsruhe, she spent a year working as a research scientist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. She then went on to work as a software developer at a cryptographic solutions provider, before joining ZEISS in Oberkochen.
"I just love the superior technology that ZEISS offers. Here in the cleanroom, we produce the world's most precise optics. This appeals to the scientist and the physicist in me," she says. "What's more, I enjoy the personal touch that ZEISS cultivates as a foundation company. This all started during my two-day onboarding – with a very impressive tour through the production halls at Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology. And when we all had to start telecommuting on account of the pandemic, the company was on hand to support us. You really get the feeling that people come first. In spite of our high-tech products – or perhaps because of them."