Is photonics the answer to Moore’s Law? With our growing need for data and the transition to a 5G network, electronic chips may not be able to cut it anymore. Photons (light) can carry more data than electrons, are faster and can reduce the energy consumption in data traffic. Photonics is, therefore, a key enabling technology in this era of digitalization.
The Netherlands is positioned at the forefront of these developments and has a rich history in this field. Dating back to the 60’s Phillips developed optical fiber-technology. It was used in the telecommunications industry and also in the development of CDs, DVDs, and Blu ray. In July 2018 the Dutch government understand the future of photonics and announced an investment of 224 million euros in the development of the technology.
Ton Backx from the Institute of Photonic Integration is positive about this next step into Photonics: “This technology is going to change the world and solve some of the grand challenges we are facing. This technology will enable precision robots, medical sensors, optical variations on ultrasound, autonomous driving, smart cities and more. All these technologies will be based on the fundamentals of photonics.”
New startups in the Netherlands are forming to move this technology forward, specifically in the field of integrated photonic chips. Lionix and SMART Photonics are two examples: both foundries that allow other companies to build made to measure photonic chips. SMART Photonics in September 2018 raised €6 million and turned €4.5 million in loans into shares. This major investment will fund improving their production process whilst giving them a foundation for their next step in building a full production plant.
EFFECT photonics a spinout from TU Eindhoven also secured series A funding in 2018 (amount undisclosed). The funding will bring its Optical System-on-Chip technology to market to meet the soaring demand for bandwidth in cell towers and between datacentres. EFFECT Photonics develops and delivers highly integrated optical components based on InP (Indium Phosphide). Using EFFECT Photonics’ System-on-Chip Technology, port density can be increased by over 6-times and operational expenses reduced by 40% when compared with existing approaches.
The world is paying attention to the Photonics developments happening in the Netherlands. This year Synopsys, the world’s 15th largest software company acquired the Enschede based PhoeniX Software for an undisclosed amount. PhoeniX is a global supplier of photonic chip design solutions and acts as a proof point for the level of Photonics innovation happening in the Netherlands.
Further information can be found here.