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Shedding light on the Photonics Ireland Conference 2018

Wednesday, 5th September, 2018 4:30pm

Cork Institute of Technology and Maynooth University hosted Photonics Ireland 2018, Ireland’s premier conference for photonics research, which was held in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, from Monday to Wednesday.

150 leading photonics researchers from across the world gathered for the conference. Co-organised by CIT and Maynooth University, with co-chairs Dr Bryan Hennelly (NUIM) and Dr William Whelan-Curtin (CIT) and technical chair, Dr David Williams, the biennial Photonics Ireland conference series has been running since 2007 and covers topics such as nanophotonics and biophotonics.

Photonics is the science of creating, manipulating, transmitting and detecting light. It is used in all manner of devices from the everyday like smartphone displays and energy-saving LED lights to incredible specialised devices like those used in laser surgery.

Speaking before the event, conference co-chair, Dr Bryan Hennelly of Maynooth University said: “The global importance of photonics industrially and societally cannot be underestimated. Photonics now plays an indispensable role in people’s lives; medical imaging and optical communications are only two obvious examples, and integrated photonics is expected to rival the electronics industry in years to come.”

Dr William Whelan-Curtin, CIT added “we are very excited by the lineup of excellent plenary and invited speakers and the diversity and quality of the contributed talks. This year’s conference will be an excellent showcase of photonics research.”

Reasearxchers are confident that the power of light can be harnessed to solve the greatest global challenges.

As light particles, known as photons, replace electrons in many of the most important technologies, innovations already in the pipeline will improve healthcare, grow food, save energy, cut pollution, expand connectivity, transform manufacturing and usher in a new era of mobility.

Photonics technology can protect jobs and drive growth. Europe’s highly dynamic photonics industry is already the world’s innovation and market leader in many of the products and services that will power the digital economy of the 21st century.

Some 5,000 technology-intensive companies (many of them SMEs) directly employ over 300,000 people. A global market share of 15.5 per cent leaves Europe second only to China. Photonics is a fiercely competitive global market that was worth €447 billion in 2015 and is growing by 6.2 per cent per year.

Tripling annual European production to more than €200 billion by 2030 is realistic.

Plenary speakers included Prof. Malte Gather (University of St Andrews) who talked on ‘A laser in a living cell’; Prof. Miles Padgett (University of Glasgow) gave a talk titled ‘How many pixels does your camera have? Ours has only one!’ and Dr Joost van Kerkhof (LioniX International) described the latest TriPleX platform for photonic integrated circuits.

A further 18 speakers gave talks on high profile research topics. Over the course of the conference, a diverse range of attendees presented over 50 contributed talks and 80 posters showcasing their work and providing updates on 11 thematic areas.

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