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With his research into wireless communication via infrared light, Professor Ton Koonen is one of the six nominees for the Huibrettsen Prize 2018. On 8 October, KNAW chairman Wim van Saarloos will announce the winner during the Evening of Science. The Huibregtsen Prize is awarded annually to a research project that is ‘socially innovative’.

Ton Koonen has been nominated for his solution to disruptions and overloading of WiFi networks. In his approach, an invisible infrared beam goes from the router to one receiver only and on to no one else. These ‘pencil bundles’ offer ultra-high data capacity, are difficult to tap, safe for the eyes and very energy-efficient.

The jury of the Huibregtsen Prize ‘values this apparently simple solution, which requires a great deal of scientific innovation, for example in the development of new transmitters and a mechanism by which mobile devices pass on their location to the transmitter. In so doing, Koonen always keeps in mind that his system can only be successful if it is cheap, simple and solid, and he is looking for collaborations to actually get his system implemented in practice.’

The other 5 nominees are Prof. Deniz Başkent (UMC Groningen), Prof. Dr. Manfred Kayser (Erasmus MC), Prof. Dr. Marike Knoef (University Leiden), Prof. Dr. Robert Sauerwein (Radboud UMC) and Detlef van Vuuren (Planning Bureau for the Environment).

The Huibregtsen Prize was established in 2005 by the board of the Foundation for the Evening of Science & Society and was named after Mr Wouter Huibregtsen. The prize is awarded to a recent research project that is scientifically innovative with clear social relevance. The award will be presented at the Evening of Science & Society on 8 October 2018 in the Ridderzaal in The Hague, and consists of a sculpture, ‘De Denker’ (The Thinker), by visual artist Wil van der Laan, €25,000 earmarked for research activities, and a workshop offered by the Lorentz Center in Leiden.

Source: press release TU/e