New European roadmap guides photonics, nanotechnologies

EUROPEAN UNION—A project involving some of Europe’s leading photonics companies and research groups has published a European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies.

EUROPEAN UNION—A project involving some of Europe’s leading photonics companies and research groups has published a European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies. This output comes from Merging Optics and Nanotechnologies (MONA; www.ist-mona.org), which is funded by the European Commission (EC) within its 6th Framework Programme.

Recognizing that photonics and nanotechnologies are both highly multi-disciplinary fields and two of the principal enabling technologies for the 21st century, the MONA project was set up in 2005 to develop a roadmap to indicate funding priorities for the EC. A major component of the MONA Roadmap is the identification of the highest priority economic growth areas, taking into account market size, market growth, and the positioning of European industry and research in these areas.

The MONA roadmap identifies key nanomaterials which have the strongest impact for nanophotonics. They are: quantum dots and wires in silicon (Si), III-V and II-VI; plasmonic nanostructures; high-index-contrast Si and III-V nanostructures; carbon nanotubes; integration of electronics with photonics; and nanoparticles in glasses or polymers. The report also identifies key equipment and processes for nanophotonic devices. It highlights those which potential for mass production as MOCVD, CNT CVD, colloidal synthesis, nanophosphor fabrication, sol-gel synthesis, OVPD, UV lithography, nanoimprint and etching. The report goes on to add, “The types of equipment and processes with the broadest field of applications are MOCVD, MBE and colloidal chemistry as bottom-up technologies and UV lithography, e-beam lithography and nanoimprint lithography as top-down technologies.” The Roadmap also identifies key devices in seven areas of major applications and provides technical recommendations for these, along with risk factors.

Looking at existing strengths and competencies within Europe, and taking into account the markets and competition worldwide, the Roadmap makes some key recommendations to the EC. These include: provide support services such as R&D for the displays area, both rigid and flexible; develop quantum-dot technology for solar cells; maintain R&D on visible and infrared-sensing in various application areas; intensify R&D for lighting; maintain R&D for datacom/telecom; maintain R&D on microstructured fibers, II-VI quantum dots and plasmonics for nanophotonic-based sensors; and maintain R&D competence in optical interconnects.

Around 300 people from industry and academia contributed to the construction of the roadmap. Some of the main players in nanophotonics who are involved in MONA include CEA Leti (Grenoble), Aixtron AG (Aachen), Alcatel-Thales III-V Lab (Marcoussis), the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) and IMEC (Leuven).

—Bridget Marx

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