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Southampton University showcases Future Photonics Hub

21 Sep 2016

The Future Photonics Hub’s inaugural “industry day” hailed a success by 150 delegates and exhibitors.

More than 150 photonics professionals and academics last week participated in the Future Photonics Hub’s inaugural industry day, held at Southampton University, UK. Attendees came from a wide range of industry sectors including: manufacturing, aerospace, defense, materials, electronics, telecoms and healthcare.

Launched in January 2016, the Hub is an EPSRC Future Manufacturing Research Hub led by Southampton, in partnership with the University of Sheffield. The Hub focuses on developing new industry-ready manufacturing processes by understanding, adapting and integrating photonics in four critical technology areas: light generation and delivery, high-performance silica fibers, silicon photonics and the manufacturing of 2D and metamaterials.

Professor Sir David Payne, who is Principal Investigator at the Hub, as well as being director of Southampton’s ORC and Zepler Institute, introduced the event and explained its objectives: “This Hub is an initiative that was introduced by the EPSRC across a range of disciplines, strongly supported by the UK Government, which has the agenda of rebuilding manufacturing across the country.

”So what does that have to do with universities like Southampton and Sheffield? Well, a view of almost everything that we do here and there flows from processes, new concepts and manufacturing techniques, whether it is fiber optics, lasers, silica materials processing. Our research has led to processes and cost reductions that enable improved manufacturing of a range of products.”

Prof. Payne added that target markets are extremely competitive, which justified the significant investment involved.

Other presentations

The keynote speech was from renowned entrepreneur, Dr Andrew Rickman, OBE, CEO and Chairman of Rockley Photonics – a leader in the commercialization of photonics based research (see related story).

The day-long event also included an exhibition featuring 30 exhibitors organized by XMark Media, which also operates Photonex. Clean room tours and speed networking gave delegates the opportunity of exploring Southampton’s laboratory facilities and to meet prospective future partners; with over 50 individual meetings organized with key Hub contacts.

Other talks at the Hub day included the following:

  • MIR Devices (Professor Jon Heffernan, Sheffield); Introduction to laser, LED, detector capabilities in Sheffield.
  • Silicon Photonics Platforms (Professor Goran Mashanovich, Southampton); Silicon and germanium-based integrated photonics platforms in Southampton.
  • Chalcogenide Photonics (Professor Dan Hewak, Southampton); MIR fiber and optoelectronic technologies at Southampton
  • Optical coherence tomography (Professor Steve Matcher, Sheffield); introduction to OCT technologies – integration needs and opportunities.

Hub Deputy Director, Professor Jon Heffernan said, "Our first industry day was a tremendous success and we are delighted that a large number of new opportunities for collaborative projects have been identified as a result. We were particularly pleased with the strong endorsement of our vision for the Hub and the recognition by industry of the powerful combination of capabilities that our two institutions bring to photonics manufacturing research."

Innovation Fund

One of the highlights of the Hub’s industry day was the announcement of the new Innovation Fund. Prof. Payne commented, “Our industry day is an opportunity to share key breakthroughs in photonics research, and to engage industry in the development of next-generation photonics manufacturing processes to provide lower-cost, higher-performing integrated sensors, lasers and sub-systems.

"The new Innovation Fund is designed to stimulate engagement with industry as project partners to demonstrate a pathway to manufacturing and exploitation. The Fund enables inclusion of academic partners who bring additional value to the Future Photonics Hub program, specifically the development of new photonics manufacturing processes, in collaboration with our industry partners."

The EPSRC-funded Future Photonics Hub has available an 'Innovation Fund' to enable the inclusion of academic partners who bring additional value to the Hub's research program. The first call for applications for this funding is now open and will close on November 7, 2016. Further details are available on the EPSRC website.

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