Photonic integrated circuits

Photons are light waves and light particles. The generation, transport, and detection of these particles is called photonics. This technology is used for products and processes in which light plays a role. For example, cameras in mobile phones, sustainable lighting, and high-speed Internet access via fibre optics. Find out how we are further developing photonics technology.

More need for photonics

Photonics helps with fast, reliable communication and the digitisation of industry, which is currently in great demand. It is applied in a wide range of fields: from food production and home convenience to health technology. A new development is integrated photonics: miniaturisation and integration into chips.

The industry is growing

The global photonics industry is estimated to grow 40% over the next five years. The Netherlands has a strong international position in this; almost 300 Dutch companies are working on developing and applying photonics products. Europe is also investing in photonics as a key technology for economic growth and high-quality jobs.

Biosensors detect disease in a drop of blood

One example of applied photonics is biosensors. We are working on an optical biosensor that can analyse a drop of blood to identify an infectious disease. Via a disposable sensor cartridge, optical sensors should record the protein concentrations in a drop of blood within minutes in order to make a diagnosis.

Device on the market

In addition to blood, this biosensor can also test urine or saliva. There are also options for acute situations, such as determining whether someone is having a cardiac arrest or a stroke. Or even detection of MRSA, Ebola, and Zika viruses, and nerve agent exposure. The end goal is to bring a compact and affordable device to market. The Delta Diagnostics company was founded to develop this product. Dutch Optics Centre, a collaboration between TNO and TU Delft, helps out and supports this process.

Measurement of freeform optical surfaces

Photonics is also used in freeform optics. The advanced measuring instrument NANOMEFOS can accurately and quickly measure large areas of optical elements at the nanometre scale. Aspheric and freeform optics are currently difficult to measure, but NANOMEFOS can do it, and this makes it unique. And yet these optics are being used in more and more high-end optical systems.

Three versions of NANOMEFOS

NANOMEFOS was developed by Dutch Optics Centre and high-end technology provider Demcon. There are three versions of the machines, for small (300 millimetres), medium (600 millimetres), and large areas (1000 millimetres). Key markets for NANOMEFOS include space travel, telescopes, and large mirrors on Earth.

Detecting small particles with a particle scanner

Contaminants on chips affects their quality. Photonics technology helps detect contaminants on small chips. A particle scanner can be used to detect the smallest contaminants at the nanoscale. It is important to protect the pellicle, the ultra-thin membrane that holds the slide with the pattern of the chip on it, from particles.

On to a portable scanner

The 'Fast-micro’ particle scanner, developed by Dutch Optics Centre and Lans Engineering, can detect these particles. The scanner determines whether a part, module or component is clean enough to be allowed into a machine. The ultimate goal is a portable product that can detect these particles. And this may eventually be used more broadly than the chip industry, for example in the production of OLED TVs and the lamination of aircraft.