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'Next-gen' photonic crystal fiber project launches in Europe

19 Dec 2006

The NextGenPCF consortium launches a pan-European R&D project worth Euro 12.2m to develop new types of photonic crystal fibers.

The NextGenPCF project, which comprises a number of European industrial and research partners, aims to advance photonic crystal fiber technology, and to utilize new types of such fiber in applications such as biomedicine, telecoms and sensing. The three-year project is valued at €12.2 million, of which €6.6 million will come from the European Commission.

The project forms part the European Union’s current Information Society Technology (IST) program, which started in June 2006 and is set to continue for the next three years.

NextGenPCF will build on a strong European tradition of innovation in photonic crystal fibers, optical fibers incorporating a silica/air microstructure. Over the past few years European scientists and engineers have redefined what an optical fibre is, and recent years have seen continuing performance improvements that have enabled photonic crystal fibers to address entirely new applications.

The next stage of their development will involve specifying designs and processes for industrialization, while continuing to grow applications. To permit this to happen, NextGenPCF brings together an international consortium of 18 partners, integrating key European industrial and academic groups and SMEs, from raw material developers to final users. It aims to incubate key devices in three fields of applications:

• Biomedical: Raman lasers for photodynamic therapy and wideband sources for cytology.

• Telecoms: easy-to-install, low-cost fiber for indoor wiring, and High performance discrete Raman amplifiers.

• Sensors for the environment: methane detection in mining and landfill monitoring.

The idea is that technological developments will be driven by these applications. By integrating all the partners in a coordinated development process, the hope is to create a virtuous circle of market growth that will link end users with device makers, fiber manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials, while also spreading knowledge and avoiding duplication.

The participants in the consortium are: Draka Comteq France (F); Draka Comteq Fibre (NL); Alcatel-Lucent (F); Degussa Novara Technology (I); Heraeus Tenevo (D); Vitron (D); Red-C Optical Networks (Is); Osyris (F); Fibre Optic Sensors & Sensing Systems (B); Altechna (Lt); France Telecom (F); Horiba (F); Universite Des Sciences & Technologies, Lille (F); Universite De Limoges (F); University of Bath (UK); Institut Für Physikalische Hochtechnologie, Jena (D); Instituto De Engenharia De Sistemas & Computadores, Porto (P); and Multitel (B).

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