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Ecosystem Twente ensures applicability of photonics

Twente has a leading role in retaining and strengthening photonics, a technology that leads to faster internet and smarter devices. For example, Twente start-up QuiX developed a photonic quantum chip that has promising prospects. Also, researchers at the University of Twente are currently working on a light amplifier that will promote the applicability of this technology.

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In short

  • Twente start-up QuiX developed a technologically advanced photonic quantum chip;
  • FORWARD.one and OOST NL are investing in this start-up and strengthen Twente’s photonics-related ecosystem with it; 
  • Sonia Garcia Blanco, assistant professor at the University of Twente, developed a new light amplifier to overcome one of these obstacles and receives European funding for this.
QuiX

Twente start-up QuiX, a spin-off of the University of Twente, is working on a photonic chip for quantum computers, the newest generation of supercomputers. This chip is about the size of a thumbnail, and it is located in the middle of a device, next to a monitor. It is like a heart, with fibreglass wires going in one side and out the other. The device pushes light particles through the circuitry on the chip through these glass fibre wires. This is different from normal chips, where electrons are commonly used instead of light particles.  

 

This chip is truly a technological masterpiece, and it offers great potential for the aviation and chemical industry. The chip does still need further development for this purpose, however, as it is currently only capable of producing 12 units of quantum information (qumodes). Fifty qumodes are necessary for the application of the chip. 

 

Seven QuiX employees are working on the (further) development of the chip. The organisation received a financial injection from FORWARD.one and Oost NL for this. “The potential impact of quantum computers on society is enormous; it could help with calculating and solving the large and complex issues that we face. QuiX is currently offering a promising tool to gain experience”, says Marius Prins, managing director of Oost NL. “We strengthen the position that the Netherlands, and Twente in particular, has in the field of photonics with this investment; one of the most important technologies at this moment. Innovations make it to the market sooner like this, and it will also be good for high-quality employment in the province of Overijssel.”

Photonics ecosystem

This investment also strengthens Twente’s photonics-related ecosystem. QuiX is not the only organisation working on the development of this technology. Organisations like LioniX International, PhoeniX and PHIX are as well. Researchers at the University of Twente are also researching the technology. All in Twente, so the lines are short. CEO Van den Vlekkert: “That is how we all benefit from the ecosystem here. The advantage is that you do not have to bring in all the skills yourself.”

 

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The power of Twente’s photonics ecosystem

Research is vital for the development of this technology. Assistant professor Sonia Garcia Blanco recently received a European grant for a light amplifier that she and her team developed. Sonia Garcia Blanco received this grant, the Proof of Concept grant from the European Research Council, to prepare this light amplifier for the market. This new light amplifier does not only pick up the light signals on photonic chips, it also gives a “boost” to the application possibilities of these chips. The stronger light signals from this new light make detectors for tumour masks and viruses more sensitive. The amplifier can also be used in self-driving cars, allowing it to scan its environment even better, or for signal processing of 5G mobile communications. 

 

It was not yet possible to integrate an optical amplifier on the same chip as the rest of the photonics, until now. An external connection had to be used for this, but this is vulnerable and can cause loss as a result. This new light amplifier by Professor Sonia Garcia Blanco and her team offers a solution for these disadvantages by using a combination of alumina and erbium, as well as an innovative coupling technique. 

 

Sonia Garcia Blanco, assistant professor at the University of Twente, already received a grant for this amplifier before, in 2015. This Consolidator Grant is now coming to an end, and she can now make this concept ready for the market with this new “Proof of Concept” grant at an accelerated pace

Date: 28 September 2020