Optics & Photonics

Connecting the world, one photon at a time

The optoelectronics and photonics industry is a broad and rapidly growing sector that encompasses the development and manufacturing of devices and systems that interact with, transmit and process light.

The industry is an essential part of the global economy and involved in a broad range of sectors including telecommunications, data communications, consumer electronics, displays, manufacturing, healthcare, and monitoring. 

As a reflection of the significance of these sectors, the UK and European optoelectronics and photonics industry is also benefiting from government initiatives and investments. For example, the UK government has launched the Photonics Leadership Group (PLG), and the European Commission is investing in the industry development through the Horizon Europe programme. Companies are also heavily investing in commercialising emerging technologies to develop more efficient, reliable, and affordable optoelectronic and photonic devices. 

Overall, the outlook for the optoelectronics and photonics industry in the UK and Europe is very positive. The industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by increasing demand from key end-user industries, government support, and technological innovation.

PI-KEM’s Optoelectronics and Photonics team supports researchers from those starting out on their academic journey to those with responsibility for whole teams or for taking products to market, ensuring we maintain our wide network of suppliers who can provide the novel materials required for their projects to maintain momentum.

  • Industry Insights

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    • Demand for high-speed data communications networks, with improved performance and stability.  Essential for the development of next-generation telecommunications networks, such as 5G and 6G
    • Growing popularity of consumer electronics devices such as smartphones and tablets
    • Increased adoption of optical manufacturing techniques
    • Rising demand for less-invasive healthcare, including medical imaging, laser surgery, and biosensing, needing components, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) systems and laser diodes
    • Growing development of new optoelectronic materials and technologies
    • New energy generation and storage
    • Increased automation in manufacturing requiring devices for quality and safety management
    • Automation of vehicles with applications in areas such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), autonomous driving, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
    • Security and defence for surveillance, navigation, and targeting
    • Use of LEDs in lighting and displays
  • Innovation Trends

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    • Quantum photonics: Potentially to lead to new types of optoelectronic and photonic devices with unprecedented capabilities
    • Metamaterials: Artificially engineered materials with unique optical properties. Research in this area is focused on developing new metamaterial-based optoelectronic and photonic devices
    • Nanophotonics: Manipulation of light at the nanoscale. Nanophotonic devices and systems have the potential to revolutionise the way we generate, transmit, and process information
    • Integrated photonics: Developing optical devices and systems that are integrated on a single chip. Offering advantages over traditional optical devices, including smaller size, lower cost, and higher performance
    • Photonic sensors: Used to measure a wide range of physical and chemical parameters and are becoming increasingly important in the automation of a wide range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, and environmental monitoring
  • Academic/ Industrial Partnerships

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    • The FASTNET project involving University of Southampton ORC, Microsoft and Lumenesity, working to develop hollow core, low latency fibreoptic cables which have the potential to increase data transfer by 50%. Click here to read article
    • The UNQORN project involved 8 universities, 3 research institutes and 3 large companies and was focussed on compressing physically large lab setups onto micro – on chip systems to provide more reliable, reproducible, and cost-effective quantum technology. Click here to read article
    • Quantum Engineering Researchers at University of Bristol have recently published a paper demonstrating how quantum sensing combs can be used to improve greenhouse gas detection and have the potential for applications in medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring. Click here to read article
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