New Photonics Platform in Ireland to Make Light Work Better

Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb was a bright idea when first introduced, but now researchers have found even better things to do with light, using it to grow an industry expected to be worth €600 billion by 2020.

Light is already carrying information, collecting medical data and etching silicon chips. But demand for new technologies that employ “photonics” is racing ahead, and countries around the world – including Ireland – are hoping to tap into its vast potential.

“Photonics is interesting because it is not a direct industry but it is a key enabling technology and it is big,” says Dr Patrick Morrissey, manager of the Cork-based Irish Photonic Integration Centre.

In simple terms photonics is the generation, manipulation and use of light. How you use it depends on why a company needs it in the first place.

It could be a light signal passing down a fibre optic cable to provide phone, internet and television.

Or maybe a low energy light-editing diode (LED) used to illuminate the display on a mobile phone or a flat screen television, says Morrissey.

Formed in 2013, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded centre employs 100 scientists and engineers who pursue photonics research and connect academics and companies working in photonics.Read more


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