Always follow the money

April 25, 2022
Significant investments demonstrate belief in the science fueling laser and optics-based innovations.

Science fuels most meaningful innovations. Yet, marketing buzz can sometimes make it difficult to see beyond the smoke and mirrors. Early in my career, a seasoned analyst told me the key to spotting the difference between a touted innovation that’s merely trendy and the real deal is to pay close attention to the moneynot just the science.

I found his advice frustrating, but looking back it made a lot of sense. I’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of passionate researchers and innovators. As a result, I’ve covered some amazing ideas that ended up being truly transformational. On the flip side, I’ve seen far more seemingly great concepts that failed to materialize, at least commercially.

The difference was almost always money, and not the seed money. After all, a lot of bleeding-edge innovations successfully secure initial fundingthat’s the point of angel investorsbut reaching that next level of financial commitment requires technology to have legs. Seeing beyond the buzz means looking for investments demonstrating that someone saw viable, market-changing potential, which often differs significant from the inventor’s vision.

This type of investment is happening right now in photonics, specifically in photonics-based computing. And a few key strategic investments demonstrate the confidence in its potential—the most significant investment being the 1.1 billion euros pledged through a combination of public (almost half coming from the Dutch government) and private funding announced in April by Netherlands-based PhotonDelta.

The funding focuses on building the infrastructure and supporting the businesses to boost the European market into becoming the leading producer of photonic microchips, taking integrated photonics to the next level. 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.

Another example is a bit closer to home, and although the dollar amount pales in comparison to the PhotonDelta investment, it is equally important to the advancement of photonic computing. Specifically, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also announced $25 million in federal funding to spur a new phase in the partnership between GlobalFoundries & PsiQuantum. This funding will expand research and development spearheaded out of the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY (Rome Lab), to manufacture and test photonic quantum computing technology. This funding is in addition to the previously announced investments in the Rome Lab totaling just over $300 million.

The partnership between GlobalFoundries and PsiQuantum aims to use expertise in semiconductor chip manufacturing to make significant advancements in accelerating quantum computing technology, putting photonics on center stage. The new funding will enable GlobalFoundries to move forward with new fab integration and tooling needed to develop and build components for PsiQuantum’s photonic quantum computer.

As the fruits from these investments come to bear, the result will not just impact the computer industry. Its impact will touch every industry, further shining a light on the potential photonics-based technologies harness.        

About the Author

Peter Fretty | Market Leader/Group Editorial Director, Laser & Military

Peter Fretty began his role as the Market Leader, Laser & Military in June 2023; the group encompasses the Laser Focus World, Military & Aerospace Electronics, and Vision Systems Design brands. He also serves as Group Editorial Director, Laser & Military (effective spring 2023) and served as Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World since October 2021. Prior to that, he was Technology Editor for IndustryWeek for two years.

As a highly experienced journalist, he has regularly covered advances in manufacturing, information technology, and software. He has written thousands of feature articles, cover stories, and white papers for an assortment of trade journals, business publications, and consumer magazines.

Sponsored Recommendations

Optical Power Meters for Diverse Applications

April 30, 2024
Bench-top single channel to multichannel power meters, Santec has the power measurement platforms to meet your requirements.

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a Micro 3D Printed Benchmark Part: Send us your file.

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!