From University to a Career in Integrated Photonics

05 October 2022

Working in integrated photonics, means working on next generation chip technology that harnesses the power of light to create energy-efficient, faster, and more accurate microchips. Chips that help solving societal challenges in fields like healthcare, energy, food and telecom. Build upon the rich history and strong position of the Netherlands and discover career opportunities in this fast-growing industry.

Table of contents

Why work in integrated photonics?

We’re currently living in a technological revolution where the generation of data and sensing devices is rapidly accelerating. Electronic microchip technology on its own cannot keep pace, and therefore requires additional photonic functionalities. 

Photonic chips are mass-produced on thin wafers (round discs) and then applied in products. Credits: Bart van Overbeeke, PHIX Photonics Assembly, Delta Diagnostics, MantiSpectra.

Leveraging the power of light, photonic chips are highly effective at processing and transmitting data – sensing with the highest level of precision. They are also integrated alongside traditional electronic chips and applications across a range of industries. Read more about how it works >

Combining electronics with integrated photonics offers a sustainable solution to society’s energy consumption and technological challenges such as the expansion of 5G data networks and data centres, safer autonomous driving vehicles, testing at the point-of-care, and more efficient food production. Discover applications in various markets >

Fast Growing Market & Key Enabling Technology

Given the current landscape and the potential that integrated photonics has to enhance innovation in several industries, both the European Commission and the Dutch Government have recognised integrated photonics as a Key Enabling Technology (KETs). This results in a prioritised focus on research and innovation support. Leading to, amongst others, the creation of the industry accelerator PhotonDelta.

Integrated Photonics is a fast growing market with a projected CAGR of ~23% in 2021-2031 and is estimated to surpass the revenue of US$ 7.6 Bn by the end of 2031. This technology is here to stay and will be more and more integrated with electronic chips. The Netherlands is a frontrunner in integrated photonics with a significant knowledge advantage over other countries in the world.

Career opportunities in integrated photonics

Working in integrated photonics, you can end up in a diverse range of companies, from startups to multinationals, both at home and abroad. The industry is looking for specialists that design the photonic chips, optimize the chip production or packaging process, develop or maintain production machines, and develop innovative products using the photonic chips. Examples are biosensors or diagnostic instruments, lidar systems, transceivers, miniaturized spectrometers, and fiber optic sensor systems.

Integrated photonics offers jobs all over the world

This is an overview of international partners of PhotonDelta, all in one way or another active with integrated photonics.

Types of companies where you can work:

  • A photonic chip design company
  • A supplier to the Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) value chain 
  • A company building applications with photonic chips
  • An existing startup interested in adding integrated photonics to your product 
  • A research organisation

Working in the PhotonDelta ecosystem

This is an overview of the PhotonDelta ecosystem and presents all possible employers in the integrated photonics industry.

Career websites of PhotonDelta partners

BRIGHT PhotonicsLioniX InternationalSMART PhotonicsPHIX Photonics Assembly
PhotonFirstEFFECT PhotonicsQuiX QuantumSurfix Diagnostics
TaruccaVTEC Lasers & SensorsNosticsDemcon
AircisionHighTechXLEindhoven University of TechnologyTNO
imecDelft University of TechnologySynopsysBruco IC

What to study to work in integrated photonics?

Integrated photonics combines expertises from the two fields electronics and photonics. To start a career in this industry, you can follow one of these main paths.

Bachelor’s degree programs (undergraduate) at Universities of Applied Sciences:

  • (Applied) Physics – of which photonics is a subdomain
  • Electrical Engineering or Mechatronics
  • A business study – as a Finance, Sales, Marketing or HR professional you’ll work in the back office
The Carla initiative provides students and early-stage researchers an image of the photonics field by organising career camps.

Internships, graduation and research assignments

The University of Applied Sciences in the Hague, Saxion and Fontys feature photonics research groups called ‘lectoraten’. Via graduation assignments or research projects bachelor students can become involved in their research projects.

Saxion and Fontys offer an ”Innovation Traineeship”. This means that you perform your graduation internship at a company under the supervision of one of the researchers at the HBO.

A selection of internships in our ecosystem:

Continue to a Master’s degree (postgraduate)

After your studies, you can consider continuing your studies with a Master’s program at the university. Here too, you can opt for an electronics or physics-related study. In the Netherlands, University of Twente, Delft University of Technology and Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), offer great master programs in the mentioned fields.

If you’re looking for a specialized master program, consider these options:

Many master’s students first move on to a doctorate, like a PhD, before entering the labor market. During a doctorate, you conduct scientific research in an international team to make important technological progress.