Thursday, September 24, 2015

An extraordinary day to be in Eindhoven

Bright Roadmap for Photonics Chip manufacturing at High Tech Campus

Stef Depla Alderman City of Eindhoven (left) congratulates Richard Visser of Smartphotonics.
Champagne was flowing at lunchtime to mark the start of an important new phase in Indium Phosphide chip manufacture in the world. Having followed the development of photonics for the last 9 months, I've come to understand that some amazing technologies are being born with the power of light rather than electrons.

Smart Photonics, a pure-play foundry, which began in 2012 as a spinoff initiative from Tu/e revealed an ambitious roadmap for the coming years. Pure-play means they only work with customers to make their chips. They don't want a situation like Samsung and Apple where Samsung has made screens for Apple, while at the same time competing with their own phones.  

Sigrid Johannisse, Director of StartupDelta and Alderman Stef Depla of the City of Eindhoven assisted in the inauguration of the new cleanroom production facility. They etched a message of support into the first wafer to be made in the new facility.

Richard Visser, CEO, Smart Photonics took the opportunity of the visit to reveal the next stage of his company’s plans. “Today, we opened the pilot line production facility which allows us to offer a new range of services to photonics chip designers and high-tech companies around the world. We have already built a trusted relationship with more than 40 major companies in Europe, USA and Asia. They understand that indium phosphide chips are the best choice in applications ranging from new generation low-power consumption data-centres to “needleless pills”  for medical diagnostics that can help diabetics. Photonics also plays an important role in the aircraft industry and highly secure cryptography. In short, the market is scaling exponentially.”

The opening of the new production facility on High Tech Campus Eindhoven means photonics design companies can scale-up production much faster and at a significantly lower cost. The official opening of the facility involved a short visit to the brand new cleanroom but also contained a surprise ending.

Sigrid Johannisse has worked alongside Neelie Kroes (above) in the development of European Commission policy to give Europe a 5 year lead on the US and Asia. Together with Neelie Kroes they both put up a very strong case in 2012/2013 that Photonics should be one of the key 6 enabling technologies. It was a commitment which has proved to be a winning strategy, and the results of these investments are now bearing fruit.

Just before pushing the countdown button, Sigrid had this to say.

We've listened today to the story of Eindhoven as a City of Inventions, especially in making light. But also the great work in building photonics startups that are light year's ahead. We hope your goals will also be achieved at the speed of light. On behalf of Startupdelta, we wish you every success, we're especially proud of what's been achieved so far, and we'll work together to build an even brighter future.

In three year's Smart Photonics looks forward to inviting today’s guests back to Eindhoven to inspect their new full-scale Indium Phosphide chip factory. Designs for the new facility will be finalized based on the practical experiences gained in the pilot facility opened today. This will ensure that photonics manufacturing prospers in this region of the Netherlands, keeping Eindhoven light years ahead in Photonics.

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