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Bell Labs opens facility in Ireland

15 Mar 2005

The Nobel Prize winning laboratories open a research center in Dublin.

Bell Labs, the famous R&D arm of the data communications specialist Lucent Technologies, has opened a EURO 43 million research center in Ireland. The new facility is based in Blanchardstown, Dublin and will carry out research into advanced manufacturing technologies for Lucent’s products.

“In photonics, we are focusing on the packaging and assembly because they dominate the cost of products,” Lou Manzione, the center’s executive director told Optics.org. “We began operations last fall and had our official opening last week. At the moment we have a staff of 15 but are looking to grow this to around 40.”

As for why Ireland was selected as the location of the center, Manzione cited two main reasons. “One is that we are looking to grow our representation here [Ireland] and our visibility in Europe. The second is the opportunity to partner with a large number of Irish research institutions.”

Already the center has teamed up with 7 universities and 2 research institutes -- collaborations that have resulted in four patent applications. One project is investigating so-called nanograss, a textured surface made up of billions of tiny silicon pillars that increases the effective surface area of a flat surface by a factor of ten.

Ultimately, liquid-cooled nanograss substrates could provide an efficient way of removing heat from next-generation electronic and photonic circuitry that would otherwise become too hot and fail. The University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin and the Tyndall Institute at University College Cork are all involved in the project.

Over the past 80 years Bell Labs has generated more than 30,000 patents and pioneered many important communication technologies including the transistor, the semiconductor laser and fiber-optic data transmission. Its scientists have received a total of six Nobel Prizes in Physics.

“Bell Labs is admired throughout the world for its groundbreaking achievements in science and research that have truly shaped the way we live,” said Mike Devane, managing director of Lucent’s activities in Ireland. “Locating a Bell Labs Research Centre in Ireland reflects the confidence we have in this country and further underpins Lucent’s investment in Ireland.”

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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