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EU project: Computer data as fast as light with Multilayer Photonic Circuits made by Nano-Imprinting of Waveguides and Photonic Crystals

TNO took the initiative to start a project to develop new optical components which will make it possible to transmit data over short distances. With these new components, the data transmission in computers can become much faster than with the electronic components currently used. The increasing request for higher data speeds in the information and communication technology leads to continuously increasing performance of microprocessors. This has led to the introduction of optical data transmission (e.g. glass fibre) as a replacement of electronic data transmission (e.g. copper wire) in most transmission applications longer than 10 meters. However, a need remains for optical data transmission for shorter distances inside the computer.


In cooperation with partners from the industry, IBM Research, TE Connectivity, VERTILAS and Momentive as well as research groups from IMEC, VTT, Tyndall and the University of Utrecht, TNO started the project FIREFLY: "Multilayer Photonic Circuits made by Nano-Imprinting of Waveguides and Photonic Crystals". In this shared research project forces are combined from materials, processing and device expertise to develop the nano and micro components needed for the transportation of light for the optical data communication, based on polymer waveguides.

Materials development

Innovative polymers, new applications of nano-technology as well as new methods for light in- and out coupling and the integration of all these new components are the technical ingredients of this ambitious project. An illustration of the final concept is shown in the figures. Besides the role of coordinator, TNO will take part in the materials development, create a method to make photonic crystals for light guiding and prepare imprint moulds for the manufacturing of the nanostructures. More details about the project are presented on www.fp7-firefly.eu.

Ir. Sjoukje Wiegersma


Ir. Sjoukje Wiegersma


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