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April is an important month for PhotonDelta in the Netherlands. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven opened its Institute for Photonic Integration. The institute houses around 300 researchers working on the development of photonics. Ewit Roos, Managing Director at PhotonDelta- an initiative by TU/e, Brainport Development and BOM- looks ahead, to the role of photonics in the future and the increasing interest in photonics by the industries as well as other countries.

“The Netherlands as a country is leading in integrated photonics”, Roos says. “However, we have to be on our guard, other countries are gaining knowledge on us.” Like the US per example: Where industry and government contributed around a Billion Dollars to R&D.

“No better moment for the University to start the Institute for Photonic Integration”, Roos says. Primary goal: to combine all research in the terrain of integrated photonics in order to accelarate this, still new, technology.

April marks a big step on the path to a more durable world.

Photonics could play a major role in making growing data-traffic more durable. Worldwide, datastations already use over 3 percent of all available electricity. Without interference by new technology, this will double each year.

Already photonics are used to facilitate datatransport in fiberglass cables, where data is transported through light signals. Processing that data now happens mainly through micro-electronic chips.

Fotonische chips zouden een grote rol kunnen gaan spreken in de verwerking van data.
Fotonische chips zouden een grote rol kunnen gaan spreken in de verwerking van data.

“Using photonic chips would be a more energy efficient solution which without losing speed.” The new institute supports futher development of those chips by conducting its own research. “We cater to an industry that by 2030 should gross many billions.”

The importance of timing the launch of the institute lies in an increase of interest from both te industry as well als international markets. “We’re leading now and should act quick and in a collaborative way to keep up the head start we have over other countries.”

“It’s now time for us to come out with the knowledge we’ve gathered in Eindhoven so far. To claim our position in this nichemarket of photonics.”, says Roos. “Integrated photonics spans about 20 percent of the total photonics market.”

To keep hold of that head start, there’s still an investment needed. It’s one of the points PhotonDelta and the new institute are working on. “Just like in the US, that investment should come partly from industry and partly from government.”

The industry should’nt form that much of a problem. “Working together, join forces, it’s natural to us, we are good in that.” A contribution from government in the form of a long-term loan could form a challenge however. “That always seems to be the hard part in the Netherlands.”

PhotonDelta wants to help photonics to grow from the lab to the commercial market. And there’s still need for an investment for that. “The costs for a full productionplan start around 150 million euro.”

Roos: “The institute and PhotonDelta help the industry to set up new developments and initiatives. Therefore, April marks a big step on the road to a more durable world.”