Engineering possibilities with PICs
From climate change to the energy crisis, the world needs smart solutions to solve global problems. Integrated photonics harnesses the power of light to transfer information via Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs).
- Data & Telecom
- Medical & Healthcare
- Engineering & Transport
- Food & Agriculture
Markets in transformation
Data & Telecom
We live in a world of ‘Big Data’. From smartphones to the Internet of Things (IoT), every day we produce and process huge volumes of data. Satisfying the ever-increasing demand for data usage and traffic requires vast, expensive, and energy-consuming data centres and telecom networks.
Integrated photonics uses light to transfer data, increases the bandwidth, and makes it much faster. It also requires less energy, making it more efficient both financially and environmentally.
Medical & Healthcare
Global healthcare systems are under increasing pressure. With an ageing population, new, innovative healthcare solutions are required. To cope with the rising cost and unprecedented demand for healthcare services, there’s now a major shift towards increased prevention and early-stage diagnosis at the point of care.
Integrated photonics engineering is key to the development of advanced biosensors, and affordable-yet-accurate diagnostic instruments to aid medical professionals and patients.
Engineering & Transport
As we move into a world of increased automation in automobiles, robots, and transport infrastructure, safety and reliability are paramount. Large numbers of sensors are needed in a sensor fusion setup. This leads to large and power hungry systems, which are undesirable and unsustainable.
By integrating multiple optic functionalities into a single chip, integrated photonics engineering can create accurate, cost-effective, and miniaturised solutions for monitoring systems, fibre optic sensing systems, and Lidar.
Food & Agriculture
Studies show that the world’s population is likely to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050, generating a 50% greater demand for food than in 2013. In order to meet this exponential demand for food, smart solutions are already being sought to optimize farming and food production processes.
Integrated photonics sensors enable farmers to give crops the optimum amount of water, light, and nutrients – and food producers are able to accurately assess qualities and quantities. Sensors also allow early detection of crop conditions and diseases, avoiding waste.
Photonic quantum processors
The classic quantum computer needs to be maintained at temperatures well below freezing for optimal performance. This makes their storage and maintenance extremely costly and fragile. Fortunately, quantum computers based on photons instead of electrons provide the ability for the computers to operate at room temperature. Integrated photonics also offers advantages in terms of scalability.
Many diagnostic tests are still complex and must be performed by trained staff on sizeable equipment in specialized facilities. The application of biosensors, like a pregnancy test, enables point-of-care diagnostics, making investigations faster and cheaper. In the last decade, new biosensor technologies have emerged that allow the sensitive and quantitative detection of biomarkers (indicator molecules, e.g. specific proteins or DNA) for conditions like cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
Portable optical sensing
Photonics Integrated Chips (PICs) are being used to determine the ripeness of fruits and vegetables. As part of a portable optical sensing system, the device from MantiSpectra yields a wealth of information which could be used to determine the optimal harvest time, growth conditions, and quality control within the distribution chain. It can also sense the quality of unpasteurized milk and bovine health problems.
Integrated photonics is taking Lidar technology (Light Detection And Ranging Systems) to the next level with the development of a Lidar chip. Compact, lightweight, and with no moving parts, this concept is ripe for cheap mass production, replacing the existing clunky and expensive technology currently deployed in autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, and a range of topographical applications.
Transitioning to 5G necessitates higher levels of data consumption, and increased energy consumption as the telecom sector trends toward the Cloud. These developments require additional transceivers to feed the edges of the network, and the solution comes in the form of integrated photonics optical components which help to simplify the production, testing, and results in optical transmission, and reduces energy consumption.