Photonics, the technology that is coming at us with the speed of light

Data is everywhere. On your way to work you check your mail, chat with your friends, and share photos and videos on
social media. Together we use and produce 70% more data every year. If this growth continues, in just six years all of the electrical power we generate globally, will be needed for the handling and exchanging of data. Our current technology is reaching its ceiling, and it cannot keep up for much longer. The solution? Integrated photonics. 30 years from now, there won’t be a
single application that doesn’t make use of this new technology. Instead of using micro electronics, integrated photonics transports and processes data with the use of light. This is not only much faster, but also costs far less energy. Transportation by light is already happening in the form of optical fiber, but that’s just the beginning. Work being done at Eindhoven University
of Technology may cause the Netherlands to become the world’s leading hotspot for integrated photonics research and development. This research can be divided
into three major spearheads: the exploration of material; the designing of generic technology for mass production; and the expansion of integrated photon electronic systems for a wide range of applications. Photonic chips will be used in control of smart grid energy supply systems, drinking water and air quality control systems safety systems, self-driving cars, in spectroscopy within the chemical industry, for monitoring an airplane’s critical components, and for diagnosing cancer. In short, this research could have an incredible impact on the foundation of our future world. The production of electronic chips is a trillion dollar industry, one of the biggest in the world today. Now that the possibilities of this technology are being stretched to the limit, integrated photonics is on the verge of becoming the next basic infrastructure for processing and sensing data. It will enable a wide range of disruptive solutions for major challenges our society faces today. Get ready for a future full of data, because integrated photonics is coming at us with the speed of light.

Danny Hutson

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