Integrated Photonics

Addressing major societal challenges with integrated photonics

With its unique capacities of sensing, capturing and processing huge amounts of data using light instead of electricity, photonics is recognized as one of the key enabling technologies of the 21st century. Applications range from health monitoring to energy-efficient data handling and communication to data security. TNO and imec at Holst Centre join forces to accelerate this technology, by focusing on the integration of photonics with electronics, to help solve major societal challenges.

Photonics represents a revolutionary technology that allows the development of energy-efficient chips, offering new solutions where today's conventional technologies are approaching their limits in terms of speed, capacity and accuracy. Photonics expert of imec at Holst Centre, Ruud Oldenbeuving: “Current electronic chips have reached their bandwidth limits, photonics will open up new perspectives for developing energy-efficient digital solutions. Therefore photonics will play an important part in driving innovation across an increasing number of fields.” Applications with integrated photonics could lead, for example, to more energy-efficient data centres, safer autonomous cars, fine-grained measurement of food quality, and improved personalised diagnostics in healthcare.

Photonics knowledge centre

In integrated photonics, photonic components are integrated into a microchip, following a manufacturing process that builds on that of a conventional electronic chip. Business Development Manager from TNO at Holst Centre, Jan-Laurens van der Steen: “We are currently seeing the development of multiple optical platforms. For integrated photonics to become successful we will ultimately need various combinations and a seamless integration of these platforms with each other and with electronics”. Successful integrated photonics solutions require world-class expertise on the technology options as well as holistic understanding of the whole multidisciplinary system and the user application.

Holst Centre combines imec's unique photonic microchip technology and design expertise with TNO's leading optics and systems integration knowhow to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for a broad variety of industries. Furthermore, Holst Centre plays a pivotal role in PhotonDelta's National Growth Fund proposal and will further strengthen its position as a knowledge centre with the close collaboration of TNO and imec on integrated photonics.