“Today, optics is a niche technology. Tomorrow, it’s the mainstream of every chip that we build.”
That was a statement from Intel senior vice president Pat Gelsinger back in 2006.
One decade later, “tomorrow” has arrived for Photonics.It is a European success story that has now reached a tipping point.
It’s the technology of generating, controlling, and detecting light waves and photons – which are particles of light. It’s risen from a niche activity to one of six Key Enabling Technologies in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 development programme.
Many startups across the continent are getting very interested to not only design chips, but also build world-changing applications which were not possible until now. It’s a mixture of very intelligent hardware and software.
As sales of smartphones go over 1 billion a year, many tech companies need much faster, cheaper and smarter technologies. At the same time, the devices have to be robust, reliable and perform to rigorous specifications. A new Europe-wide ecosystem of designers, foundries, software developers rising up to meet these challenges.
One such startup company is VLC Photonics of Valencia, Spain. The CEO, Iñigo Artundo, has many ties with Dutch photonics tech companies and chip manufacturers. As we speak, Iñigo is currently in the Netherlands to witness the launch of commercial Indium Phosphide chip production on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven.
Photonics is all around us
“Photonics technology is in the process of quietly disrupting many traditional electronics markets” explains Iñigo. “We’ve come to Eindhoven to share the story of why we believe now is the time for startups to be involved in the success of integrated photonics.”
“Light waves are already part of our everyday life; in consumer electronics (barcode scanners, DVD players, remote TV control), health (eye surgery, medical instruments), manufacturing industry (laser cutting and machining), defence and border-control (infrared camera, cryptography remote sensing), entertainment (holography, laser shows), etc.
Photonics technology is at the heart of today’s Internet highway that provides the bandwidth, speed, reach and flexibility needed to run exciting new applications that everyone knows – streaming video, social media, cloud computing and voice over IP. It’s by far the most energy efficient technology to scale up all these services.Read more