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Overview

Read the conference report (PDF).

This one-day international conference held by the Royal Society in Cardiff will bring together experts to explore recent developments in photonic technologies and the future opportunities and challenges that they present.

Photonic technologies have a wide range of recent and future applications including sensors, optical computers, next-generation lasers and LEDs, visible light communication (LiFi), water purification, quantum information processing and more.

Speakers will discuss the use of photonics from smart cities to satellites and explore the vast opportunities of photonic technologies for society and the economy. They will introduce current state-of-the-art technology and blue-sky applications in the broader context of regulation, policy and funding.

Photonics ties into many topics in the Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, from early disease detection, to commercialising quantum technologies, and manufacturing and future materials. This conference will highlight the importance of photonics to solve challenges in all of these sectors. 

Attending this event

This open event is free to attend and is intended for participants from a variety of backgrounds including academia, industry, government, as well as regulatory and other scientific bodies.

Contact the Industry team for more information.

About the conference series

This meeting forms part of the Royal Society's Transforming our Future series. The Transforming our Future meetings are unique, high-level events that address scientific and technical challenges of the next decade and bring together leading experts from wider scientific community, industry, government and charities.

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Abstract

The Photonics Industry in the UK goes from strength to strength, growing 8.4% in the last two years. Built upon the shoulders of the Physics community in the UK, the photonics sector maintains a relatively low profile given its £13.5 billion contribution to the UK economy and employment of over 69,000 people.

In this talk, an exploration of the Photonics Industry and the main markets will be followed by an exploration of "The Valley of Death" - the gap between invention and profit. Finally, there will be a deeper investigation of the ingredients necessary for industrialisation of photonics technology, the skills needed, and a roadmap for future success.

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Materials innovations driving the photonics revolution

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Photonics is at the forefront of numerous new applications spanning almost all industrial sectors from communications and the Internet of Things, to autonomous drive vehicles, aerospace, healthcare, clean energy, lighting, 3D sensing, and quantum computing, to mention just a few. At the heart of these devices are the core semiconductor materials, and specifically Compound Semiconductor materials from which the devices are manufactured. This talk will focus on the materials innovations that are driving the performance and application areas for new photonic devices, and relate these innovations to the UK's ability to compete effectively in the global marketplace for advanced photonic devices.

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Gravitational wave interferometers: Very Large Scale Quantum Sensors for Fundamental Physics

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Gravitational wave interferometers, such as the LIGO Observatories, detect tiny fluctuations in the curvature of space-time itself, resulting from violent astrophysical events. These instruments operate by using km-scale laser interferometer systems to sense changes in the relative positions of suspended optics, registering displacements of 10-18 m or less. This performance relies on a range of photonic technologies that push the state of the art - from high power lasers, low absorption optical substrates, mirror coatings of ultra-low optical and mechanical loss and high efficiency photo-detectors.

The gravitational wave detectors themselves are limited by quantum noise across a wide frequency range.

This talk will review the state of the art and discuss the future developments in photonic technology needed to advance the field.

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Technological convergence between solid-state lighting, electronic displays and optical communications

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Solid state lighting based on gallium nitride is an energy-efficient semiconductor technology that interfaces very effectively to electronics. This is fostering advances from first-generation, so-called smart lighting towards what might be termed digital lighting, possessing sophisticated capabilities including combined illumination and optical wireless communications/LiFi functionality. In parallel, gallium nitride micro-LEDs are emerging rapidly as the basis of new forms of ultra-bright, fast response, high-resolution and scalable displays, displays that can potentially project their output and interact with their environment. The commonality of the underpinning materials and device technologies and their compatibility with electronics and solid-state photodetectors offers the exciting prospect of convergences between hitherto largely disparate lighting, display and optical wireless communications technologies. Here display and lighting systems may be to some degree interoperable and also offer various combinations of communications, sensing, tracking, ranging and imaging functions.

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Silicon core fibres for nonlinear photonics

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The nascent field of silicon core fibres is attracting increased interest as a means to exploit the optoelectronic functionality of the semiconductor material directly within the fibre geometry. Compared to their planar counterparts, this new class of waveguide retains many of the advantageous properties of the fibre platforms such as flexibility, cylindrical symmetry, and long waveguide lengths. Furthermore, owing to the robust glass cladding it is also possible to employ standard fibre post-processing procedures to tailor the waveguide dimensions and reduce the optical losses over a broad wavelength range, of particular use for nonlinear applications. This talk will review progress in the development of nonlinear devices from the silicon optical fibre platform spanning the telecoms band up to the mid-infrared regime, where there is potential for application in areas such as medicine, imaging, sensing and spectroscopy.

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Secure quantum communications

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The general problem of security in information and data exchange will be introduced with a focus on where quantum physics can help and where not. In particular, I will sketch the current situation in Germany, where the government will be helping researchers and engineers to reach out to the market place.

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A global understanding of Quantum Technologies: risks and opportunities

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At the moment, there exists a big hype about quantum technologies in science and in the media. There is also a need to be realistic and identify opportunities and the main technologies that can transform society. Cutting edge science and revolutionary industry are essential, but there is a requirement to make all the connections to assist the community moving forward.

In this talk I will describe some of my efforts in promoting the public and business awareness of quantum technologies. My main focus is to bridge the gaps between academia and the general public as well as between academia and industry, acting as a key enabler on the advocacy side for quantum technologies, providing support to the different stakeholders in the quantum community, and creating global opportunities with quantum technologies.

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Photonics enabling the commercialisation of quantum technologies

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Quantum technologies involve the manipulation of atoms, ions or photons and offer prospects for new types of precision sensor systems, secure communications or information processing. Many, if not most, quantum technologies rely heavily on photonics. Utilising photonics effectively in this context requires the distillation and rapid translation of often esoteric developments in research into robust and cost-effective prototypes and demonstrator systems which balance new performance and applications capabilities against market, manufacturing and supply chain issues. Innovation organisations such as Fraunhofer CAP are well placed to help address such issues, remaining close to university research whilst also helping to create challenge- and delivery-led R&D partnerships with a wide and varied range of industrial organisations. Drawing on the experience of Fraunhofer in the UK National Quantum Technology Programme, this talk will discuss lessons learned and highlight future challenges and opportunities in this area for the wider community.

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Quantum technologies: the opportunities and challenges ahead

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Quantum Technologies came onto the UK's radar back in late 2013 when a number of pioneering academic, government and industrial figures launched the UK national quantum technology programme. The first of its kind, news of the UK's efforts to industrialise these technologies swept the world and a number of copy-cat programmes ensued.

5 years on, and the Industrial race is on to deliver high-performance, commercially viable quantum products. The potential performance power will bring significant commercial, economic and societal rewards to the winners of this race, however, it's not a simple feat to get there. Overcoming the underpinning photonics challenges, such as robustness against noise and environment is central to delivering performance, and therefore success of quantum technologies.

In this talk, Richard will summarise the current status, opportunities and challenges of the emerging quantum technologies industry.

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