Dutch photonics industry lights up US market with a raft of breakthroughs at Photonics West 2023

01 February 2023

Dutch photonic startups supported by PhotonDelta, a cross-border ecosystem of photonic chip technology organisations, have made a series of breakthrough announcements at the Dutch Pavilion (booth# 5209) at Photonics West in San Francisco.

Breakthroughs at Photonics West

  • PhotonDelta and PhotonicsNL support a total of 15 companies including Astrape Networks, Chilas, MicroAlign and Addoptics that announce key product developments and milestones at Photonics West in San Francisco
  • Astrape Networks launches photonics powered networking solution for data centres which is faster and more energy efficient than electrical networking
  • Chilas launches powerful new tunable laser that increases the sensitivity of equipment used in meteorological, tomography and autonomous vehicles 
  • Addoptics showcases polymer customizable lens shapes that will enhance optical imaging, reduce costs and speed up the manufacturing of AR/VR technology
  • MicroAlign announces it has become the first company to actively align the cores of multiple densely spaced fibres independently and at the same time – opening the door to more powerful optical fibres

Astrape Network’s photonics solution allows for much faster data transmission compared to traditional electrical networking. Crucially, it is also highly energy efficient – Astrape is able to increase speed at the usual exponential growth rate required by the market, whilst energy consumption only grows linearly. This has the capacity to significantly reduce costs and the environmental impact of data centres across the world. 

Chilas’ new tunable laser is more compact, powerful and flexible. It has a number of applications across different industries, including increasing the accuracy of optical fibre sensors and the sensitivity of metrology equipment in harsh environments. 

Addoptics‘ new nano polymer lenses are fully customizable down to the nanometer. Using a polymer instead of glass results in lighter and more durable lenses that are resistant to temperature change, UV impact and scratching. This is particularly important for the AR/VR industry. In addition, Addoptics’ lenses can be 3D printed, helping to solve the bottleneck issue that faces many development teams when it comes to product lead times. Addoptics allows for prototyping in as few as six days, versus the industry standard of six to 16 weeks. The ability to customise highly complex shapes with total accuracy means businesses can iterate their designs quickly and see results in a matter of days, enabling them to quickly move to the manufacturing stage.

These announcements are a major step forward in PhotonDelta’s goal of building an European integrated photonics ecosystem with a worldwide presence. Last year, PhotonDelta secured more than €1 billion in funding to embark on a six year programme to invest in photonic startups and scaleups, expand production and research facilities, attract and train talent, drive adoption, and develop a world-class design library. By 2030, PhotonDelta aims to have created an ecosystem with hundreds of companies, serving customers worldwide and a wafer production capacity of 100,000+ per year. 

PhotonDelta backed photonic quantum processor producer QuiX Quantum has also been nominated for the Prism Award at Photonics West. The award recognises the best photonics innovations of the year.   

Ewit Roos, CEO at PhotonDelta, said: “These announcements underline the pace and breadth of innovation in European photonic chip technologies. We want to help showcase these breakthroughs in the US because we strongly believe that these startups can rapidly gain a global customer base. 

“Integrated Photonics is one of the most exciting and transformative technologies of our generation. It will touch every industry and open the door to rapid development in areas such as quantum computing and autonomous vehicles. Many of the startups we’re talking about now have the potential to become tech giants in the next ten years.” 

Willem Jan Withagen, CTO of Astrape Networks, said: “Our photonics-based data networking solution will revolutionise the way data centres communicate data and the amount of energy needed to process data. It has the potential to greatly enhance the efficiency and performance of data centres around the world.”

Joris Biskop, CEO of Addoptics, said: “We are proud to announce the beta launch of AddNano Optics, bringing fast, precision prototypes to development teams and a manufacturing scalability that never sacrifices quality.”

“As imaging optic applications continue to rapidly grow, especially the AR/VR market, Addoptics offers companies the most efficient process to test their ideas without losing momentum.”