Studying ordered fluids, their important role in nature and their technical applications is a highly topical subject of research. Together with chemical industry, we investigate electro-optic switching effects in novel liquid crystalline materials for next-generation flat panel displays. In addition, our current research is focused on micro- and nanostructures. Their possible use for generating and detecting light (optoelectronics) or processing and transmitting optical signals (photonics) promises a large potential for future applications. In the graduate program „Micro- und Nanostructures in Optoelectronics and Photonics“ at the University of Paderborn, we develop together with physicists and electrical engineers switchable light sources based on microresonators, prepare and characterize tunable optical fibers for optical information technology and develop ultrathin layers of organic semiconductors for light emitting diodes and photovoltaic effects. Additionally, by dispersing very small amounts of nanoparticles in a liquid crystal, the electro-optic switching performance can be improved and also artificial materials with extremely unusual optical properties (metamaterials) can be fabricated, which become tunable owing to the unique liquid crystal behavior.