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Photonics innovation hubs announced worldwide

04 Jul 2024

The aims of a new crop of R&D facilities and initiatives are not only innovation but also training.

Research hubs and collaborations on innovation are necessary not only to solve longstanding technical challenges and development of new products, they also act as training environments for new entrants to the photonics and high-tech industries. This week, optics.org reports on several such developments from substantial U.S. Government investments across North America – see Sensor and quantum hubs win U.S. grants – to new ventures in Taiwan and Europe, described here.

Optics giant Zeiss has announced the opening of its new Innovation Center in Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan. The Zeiss Innovation Center offers what it describes as “a comprehensive portfolio” to meet the productivity needs of semiconductor research & development, production and failure analysis (FA) in Taiwan.

Once open, the innovation center will feature optical microscopes, electron microscopes, 3D X-ray microscopes, software solutions with artificial intelligence and other technologies for R&D and custom advanced workflows for FA from wafer to package.

Peng Tat Cheong, Head of Zeiss Taiwan, commented, “Zeiss invests more than 15 percent of its revenue in R&D annually. In recent years, we have seen the grand potential of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry and formulated the Taiwan to Global strategy.”

“Through establishing this new innovation center we will initiate collaboration between the semiconductor and electronics industries in the Asia-Pacific region, and work with research institutions and academic departments to build talent, R&D and application centers. We will promote Taiwan’s semiconductor technology and talents to the Asia-Pacific, German, and international markets,” said Cheong.

Zeiss has nearly tripled the number of employees in Taiwan in the past five years, from 121 to 406 people, and has added, on average, one new direct-operated business unit each year. This makes Taiwan the fifth country in the world with a complete set of five major Zeiss segments.

NY CREATES, CEA-Leti, and Spintec have announced a strategic partnership that will initially focus on the research and co-development of magnetic memory devices, which are used to store computer data. The devices would be produced at the 300mm wafer scale, the industry-standard platform upon which computer chips are produced. The announcement was made during the annual Leti Innovation Days in Grenoble, France.

Officials from the New York Center for Research, Economic Advancement, Technology, Engineering, and Science (“NY CREATES”), based in Albany, N.Y., and CEA-Leti, based in Grenoble, established this joint development agreement to build upon their strengths in memory device R&D.

CEA-Leti will contribute its expertise in magnetics, spintronics, and the testing of related devices, and NY CREATES will provide the facilities, process integration expertise, and materials process development to run the 300mm silicon hardware.

NY CREATES’ President Dave Anderson commented, “A first objective of this collaboration will be to develop novel magnetic memory architectures and integration. This international partnership will help to address present-day memory needs as computing power continues to progress, and we anticipate a fruitful collaboration.”

CEA-Leti CEO Sébastien Dauvé said, “We strongly believe that our collaboration will be a key enabler for the partners to be much more efficient in the lab-to-fab transition and to better impact our respective local ecosystems with more mature innovations.”

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, B-PHOT Brussels Photonics, and the City of Halle, all located in Belgium, are collaborating on a new innovative STEM hub. Set to open in 2025 in a 4500m2 space near Brussels, the project will address the growing demand for STEM professionals. With over 6,000 secondary school students, Halle is set to become an even more significant education hub.

The building, currently hosting the social enterprise for customised work AMAB, will become a center of innovation and education with laboratories and classrooms. VUB and B-PHOT, in partnership with the City of Halle, local schools, and Colruyt Group Technics, will develop a wide range of activities to support youth in their STEM development.

Agoria, the Belgian federation of the technology industry, predicts that by 2030, Belgium will face 500,000 unfilled job positions due to a shortage of STEM-qualified individuals. One of the primary goals of the new center is to offer photonics education, supported by two modern auditoriums.

Additionally, a state-of-the-art photonics training laboratory will be established, where engineering students and interested individuals from technical schools, colleges, and the corporate world can master the latest photonics technologies. The building will also house a Photonics “Demo Center”, showcasing the applications of light technology across various industries.

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