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Nanophotonics is an important technology, with a strong research profile in Ireland. Photonics is the use of light to obtain, convey or process information, while nano-photonics is concerned with dramatically reducing the scale of these technologies. Irish third-level institutions have invested strongly to address key fundamental and technological challenges in photonics, ranging from fundamental properties of materials and quantum optics, through materials growth and device fabrication, to novel systems-level applications and demonstrations of photonic processes and techniques. This research is impacting fields such as telecommunications, data storage, optical sensing and imaging, and medical devices, all of which have been revolutionised by photonic technologies.
Research in photonics has been enabled by funding from all PRTLI cycles to support significant research centres such as CRANN, NCPST, RINCE, LIGHTHOUSE and TYNDALL. This investment has attracted several major SFI-funded research groups to Ireland. The strong research base supports multinational companies (e.g. HP, Boston Scientific and Analog Devices) and has generated several high-potential spin-out companies (e.g. Eblana, SensL, Firecomms, Intune). The Irish photonics domain is a vibrant community with high international profile, supported by a regular series of national conferences (OptoIreland2002; ETOS2004; OptoIreland2005; PhotonicsIreland2007), and with significant collaborative projects including the Centre for Telecommunications Value Chain Research (CTVR) CSET (funded by SFI) and multi-institution PI projects.
INSPIRE is poised to address key challenges and opportunities in nanophotonics, supported by strategic investments under PRTLI-4 in collaborative facilities and resources, to achieve the following goals:
The achievement of these goals requires both personnel to support previous major investment, and also enhanced nanostructure growth and fabrication capabilities (TYNDALL/DCU/ LIGHTHOUSE), and complementary high-speed characterisation (CIT/CRANN) and systems test (TYNDALL/DCU) facilities. This will enable the investigation and development of potentially novel technologies and approaches of relevance across a range of applications, including established photonics technologies (telecommunications etc); nanoelectronics (high-speed interconnects) and nanobioscience, where nanopatterned materials have significant potential as templates and substrates for reproducible quantitative bioanalysis and applications.
To take further steps in stimulating collaborative projects through non-PRTLI programmes to be considered in the future
Prof. Eoin O’Reilly
Tyndall - Photonics Devices
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