Integrated Photonics

In short

Photonics – the generation, processing and detection of light – is crucial to our future internet and for better healthcare, mobility and security. In the second phase of the Gravitation program "Research Centre for Integrated Nanophotonics" (2019-2023), the team working on integrated photonics developed new materials, devices, integrated circuits and systems to create game-changing solutions that enable faster and more reliable data communication at lower energy and novel sensors for healthcare, automotive and agrifood applications, gaining world-wide recognition in their respective fields. These results were enabled by the fabrication and materials facilities available at the Nanolab@TU/e cleanroom facility, recognised around the world.


The team is represented by the Management Team of the Gravitation program:

  • Erik Bakkers - Professor - amongst other topics, has led research into new materials for integrated photonics for light emission from silicon
  • Ton Backx - Professor - initiator of PhotonDelta and a driving force in the estabalishment of start-ups from the integrated photonics community.
  • Ageeth Bol - Professor - with expertise in atomic layer deposition for two-dimensional nanomaterials synthesis
  • Frank Dirne - Managing Director Nanolab@TU/e - leading the teams of specialist technicians which are maintaining and bringing up state of the art fabrication facilities for photonic materials and circuits.
  • Andrea Fiore - Professor - leading research in nanophotonics and optical sensing and scientific director of the Gravitation program.
  • Marcella Gagliardo - Business Developer Electronics, Physics & Photonics has been supporting faculty and researchers with intellectial property management and innovation
  • Jaime Gómez-Rivas - Professor - leading research in surface photonics, with expertise in electromagnetism, optics, terahertz photonics
  • Martijn Heck - Professor - The application of photonic technology in sensors, microwave and terahertz photonics, quantum technology, and interconnects.
  • Erwin Kessels - Professor - with expertise in the field of synthesis of ultrathin films and nanostructures, and scientific director of the Nanolab@TU/e
  • Ton Koonen - Emeritus Professor -  expertise in optical telecommunications architectures and networks, including broadband and optical fiber-to/in-the-home systems
  • Bert Koopmans - Professor - leading research in nanotechnology, nano-electronics and spintronics and new forms of optical-spintronic memory.
  • Oded Raz - Associate Professor - leads research into optical communication networks, optical interconnects and programmable photonics, and the development of novel packaging solutions for data communication
  • Meint Smit - Emeritus Professor -  pioneered the use of the microelectronics methodology in photonics, and contributed to the launch of open-access integration technology platforms 
  • Idelfonso Tafur Monroy - Professor - leads research into photonic terahertz systems, advancing photonic techniques and technologies for the generation, detection and processing of electro-magnetic waves in the sub-THz to THz spectrum domain.
  • Kevin Williams - Professor -  leads research into planar photonic integration with a particular interest in the scaling properties for faster and more energy-efficient components
  • Peter Zijlstra - Associate Professor - with research on single-molecule detection using plasmonic and fluorescent approaches. Pushing the limits of sensitivity and resolution, to make the invisible visibleTeam:


Light is expected to be the essential ingredient for future technology. The exponential increase in data traffic is becoming unsustainable. At the present pace, information technologies will soon be responsible for >10% of the global electricity consumption. Photonics – the technology that uses light to carry information – can come to rescue, by providing low-energy, high-speed data transmission throughout the internet and within data centers.

Photonics additionally provides new ways to sense the world around us and is a key enabling technology for healthcare, autonomous driving and smart farming. However, these promises can only be realized if increasingly complex photonic functions can be produced at low cost.

Our vision has been to develop a photonic technology platform, combining world-class materials and devices, and bring it to an industrial maturity by applying the methods used in microelectronics to cost-effectively build photonic circuits in very large volumes. This vision has resulted in the foundation of the JePPIX European ecosystem of photonic integrated circuit developers, the PhotonDelta ecosystem, SMART Photonics and EFFECT Photonics, and has become the seed of the recently granted PhotonDelta Nationaal Groeifonds program.

Integrated photonics has been a success story in the interaction between leading edge science, strategic investment, and local valorization.

The unique proposition of the team has been to work together on all aspects of the scientific and innovation ecosystem around integrated photonics:

  • By setting up and continuously upgrading the Nanolab@TU/e facility as a driver for collaborative research enabling researchers to investigate the latest scientific questions, with pathways to upscaling and industry take-up.
  • Through joint scientific research between doctoral researchers across faculties, leading to some of the most innovative new research lines: Nanoscale light sources, novel integrated sensors, new types of optical memories, integrated artificial neurons.
  • By jointly and successfully applying for large collaborative grants, including Gravitation, NWA, NGF.
  • By encouraging collaborative intergroup projects as seed for new research lines, via dedicated calls.
  • By coordinating the education offer in the field of integrated photonics, providing joint APSE/EE Master courses and forming an interfaculty community of Master students.
  • By encouraging and coordinating valorization efforts, in close cooperation with The Gate, for example with valorization tickets to seed the most innovative start-up ambitions.
  • By jointly communicating the excitement and potential of this new technology to the broad public, in newspaper, radio and TV interviews, through social media and in events like the Dutch Design Week.