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The device can scan from a distance of up to 30 metres and is capable of instantaneous, real-time, unambiguous detection. Harnessing new photonics technology, the device uses spectroscopic sensors, that read the unique frequencies, or ‘signatures’ given off when liquids or gasses interact with light.
With real-time scanning delivering a realistic detection rate of one every few seconds, and therefore a rate of 1200 per hour, the new device can deliver over 6 times more capability than state of the art trace portal scanners that detect bombs and illegal drugs at a rate of 180 of passengers per hour.
While the device has many other capabilities, such as the early detection of diseases, scanning for bacteria in fridges or even detecting the presence of alcohol from afar, its stand-off detection capabilities mean the small device could be installed on the front of airports, scanning crowds in real-time for suspicious material, like explosives or illegal drugs, before they even entered the building.
The MIRPHAB, or ‘Mid-Infrared photonics devices fabrication for chemical sensing and spectroscopic applications’ project, is being coordinated by CEA-Leti, France, and has received funding of €13,013,967.39 from the European Commission's Photonics Public Private Partnership under the Horizon 2020 program, and €2,005,280.00 from the Swiss Government.
Project coordinator Sergio Nicoletti says "we are making the next generation of sensors that are compact, low cost and low on power consumption and capable real-time detection where the speed and sensibility is unrivaled. We want to shrink current technology down to the size of a mobile phone".
Jose Pozo, Director of Technology and Innovation, at the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) says, "Spectroscopic sensing in the MIR wavelength band (3 ÷ 12 μm) is a powerful analytical tool to address societal challenges like climate change or monitoring emission controls."
"In this wavelength band, the so-called "fingerprint region", chemicals exhibit intense adsorption features allowing superior detection capabilities and unambiguous identification", said Pozo.
With links already established in sectors such as health, automotive, medical and domestic, Pozo explains that MIRPPHAB will turn these achievements into business and commercial opportunities for both SMEs and large industrial groups.
"Within MIRPHAB, we have set the ambitious goal of creating a commercially viable pilot line for the fabrication of Mid-IR sensors that is ready for business by 2020. This result will be achieved by setting up and operating a fabrication platform, offering open access for fast Mid-IR device prototyping to European industry.
"Any European company with a business on analytical sensing can apply. They will receive matching funding to cover the prototyping costs of the MID-IR sensing system of up to €230K. Such a system will be integrated from mature components from our extended library, including laser sources, detectors and micro-optics. Furthermore, the related services to prototyping also include micro assembly and standard reliability studies", said Pozo.
You can download the full press release.
In a recent work published in Nature Communications, the research group led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Frank Koppens demonstrate a novel way to detect low-energy photons using vertical heterostructures made by stacking graphene and other 2D semiconducting materials. By studying the photoresponse of these atomically thin sandwiches, the researchers have shown that it is possible to generate a current by heating electrons in graphene with infrared light and extracting the hottest electrons over a vertical energy barrier.
This ingenious mechanism, named photo-thermionic effect, takes advantage of the unique optical properties of graphene such as its broadband absorption, ultrafast response and gate-tunability. Moreover, owing to their vertical geometry, devices relying on this effect make use of the entire surface of graphene and can be potentially scaled up and integrated with flexible or rigid platforms.
More generally, this study reveals once again the amazing properties of these man-made heterostructures. According to Prof. Frank Koppens "this is just the tip of the iceberg, these 2D sandwiches still have a lot to reveal". ICFO researcher Mathieu Massicotte, first author of this study, emphasizes the new possibilities opened up by these new materials: "Everyone knows it is possible to detect light with graphene using in-plane geometries, but what about the out-of-plane direction? To answer, you need to think outside the 2D box!"
The results obtained from this study have shown that heterostructures made of 2D materials and graphene can be used to detect low-energy photons which could lead to new, fast and efficient optoelectronic applications, such as high-speed integrated communication systems and infrared energy harvesting. In addition, it demonstrates the compatibility of 2D materials with the digital chips currently utilized in cameras, paving the way for low cost infrared spectrometers and imaging systems.
ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences was created in 2002 by the government of Catalonia and the Technical University of Catalonia as a centre of research excellence devoted to the science and technologies of light with a triple mission: to conduct frontier research, train the next generation of scientists, and provide knowledge and technology transfer. Today, it is one of the top research centres worldwide in its category as measured by international rankings.
Research at ICFO targets the forefront of science and technology based on light with programs directed at applications in Health, Renewable Energies, Information Technologies, Security and Industrial processes, among others. The institute hosts 300 professionals based in a dedicated building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.
ICFO participates in a large number of projects and international networks of excellence and is host to the NEST program which is financed by Fundación Privada Cellex Barcelona. Ground-breaking research in graphene is being carried out at ICFO and through key collaborative research partnerships such as the FET Graphene Flagship. ICREA Professor at ICFO and NEST Fellow Frank Koppens is the leader of the Optoelectonics work package within the Flagship program.
Over 400 participants attended the 6th annual Laser and Health Academy (LA&HA®) Symposium, which took place on May 20th at the resort of Lake Bled in Slovenia's Alpine region.
During the symposium 46 experts from around the world gathered to present, share and discuss experiences in the field of medical laser treatments. The lecture topics were grouped into parallel sessions according to LA&HA's three main research categories:
• Lasers in Aesthetics, Dermatology & Surgery
• Lasers in Dentistry
• Lasers in Gynecology
Many of the topics presented at this year’s Symposium discussed the unique combination of Erbium-YAG laser and Neodym-YAG laser treatment modalities, which enables highly effective yet minimally invasive aesthetic treatments such as skin tightening and body sculpting, as well as applications in periodontology and dental surgery. In the gynecological program, the ‘magical’ minimally invasive, non-ablative Erbium-YAG laser treatment modality known as SMOOTH® mode was discussed in applications from stress urinary incontinence and atrophy treatment to laser vaginal rejuvenation. The symposium also included demonstrations of some of the industry's latest medical laser equipment.
During and after the Symposium there were plenty of opportunities for networking and socializing with lecturers and fellow participants. The Symposium was jointly organized by the Horizon2020 Photonics Public Private Partnership and the Laser and Health Academy.
Taking their ideas from defence mechanisms found in plants such as the Lotus leaf, the ‘High Throughput Laser Texturing of Self-Cleaning and Antibacterial Surfaces’, or ‘TresClean’ project, has made a breakthrough that will enable the production of self-cleaning sheet metal on an industrial scale for the first time.
This new technique will initially be used to create antibacterial surfaces for use in the food production industry – dramatically increasing productivity and reducing costs in factories which process biological food products such as milk, tomato sauce, and yoghurt.
TresClean has used high-power laser cutting devices to create a specifically tailored, rough micro-topography on sheet metal that mimics the surface of the Lotus leaf, causing liquids to ‘bounce off’. This roughened surface creates miniature pockets of air that minimises the contact area between the surface and a liquid.
Professor Luca Romoli, Project Coordinator of TresClean explains: “In the same way that Lotus leaves keep themselves clean, without the need for cleaning products or chemicals, their jagged, rough surfaces enable water to stay as spherical droplets by preventing ‘spreading’.”
“Bacteria do not get a chance to stick because the contact with the metal surface and the liquid is reduced by over 80%. We are looking at an anti-bacterial metal”.
While this replicating approach may currently exist for specific and expensive plastic components, it is a first for self-cleaning metal.
Metal surfaces are textured using innovative industrial photonics devices: high-average power ultrashort-pulsed lasers are used in combination with high-performance scanning heads by utilising an innovative beam delivery method enabling movements of up to 200 m/s.
TresClean can achieve this surface texturation quickly by cutting areas of 500 square cm in less than 30 minutes. In early 2015 production methods could make laser-etched metal at a rate of 1 square inch in 1 hour, whereas TresClean can produce 1000 square cm in the same period of time, making this technology 156 times quicker than before.
Romoli estimates that TresClean could have its products ready within 2 years.
Initially aiming its product at machine parts for the food industry TresClean hopes to make a significant impact on productivity: “Vats in milk factories need to be cleaned every 6-8 hours to avoid the exponential growth of bacteria. This hinders usage and therefore affects output” Romoli said.
“By saving hours per day in cleaning, it will yield an efficiency improvement stemming from fewer sterilization cycles and less cleaning time within production as a whole. This will also reduce energy consumption as a result of fewer cleaning phases making food production quicker, safer and more profitable”.
Professor Romoli sees the long-term possibilities and implications for other sectors: “It is possible that any use of metal that needs to avoid the formation of bacteria will benefit from the TresClean product, such as medical cutting tools, sterile surfaces, dishwashers, or even saucepans”.
Coordinated by the UNIVERSITÁ DEGLI STUDI DI PARMA, the consortium includes members from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK and has received a grant of EUR 3,363,091.25 from the Photonics Public Private Partnership under the H2020 Industrial Leadership funding calls.
You can download the full press release.
Follow-Up - Photonics Research and Innovation Priority Setting Process for Horizon 2020 Work Programmes 2018 - 2020
A follow-up Photonics21 Work Group 1 workshop tokk place on 30 May 2016 at the Novotel Centre Gare Montparnasse in Paris. The workshop continued the discussions to define the photonics research and innovation priorities for Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018 - 2020. The workshop participants currently prepare the draft WG1 R&I priority document which will be circulated to all WG1 members within the next weeks.
Photonics21 Work Group 2 held another workshop on 19 April 2016 to continue the discussions of the Brussels workshop and define the work group 2 research and innovation priorities for Horizon 2020 work programme 2018 - 2020. The draft WG2 R&I priority document will be shared with all WG2 members within the next weeks.
Photonics21 Work Group 3 scheduled another workshop which will be held on 7 July 2016 at the Airport Conference Centre at Frankfurt Airport. You can download the draft agenda.
Photonics21 Work Group 4 hold another workshop on 11 May 2016 at the Hilton Airport Munich. The workshop continued the discussions of the Brussels workshop and presented the results of the three task forces lighting, displays and electronics. The draft WG4 R&I priority proposals will be shared with all WG4 members for further feedback within the next weeks.
Photonics21 Work Group 5 members have received the final version of the WG5 R&I priorities which was revised based on the received feedback.
The Photonics21 work group 6 workshop was held on 13 May 2016 at the Dorint Airport-Hotel Amsterdam to continue the discussion of the Brussels workshop and define the work group 6 research and innovation priorities for Horizon 2020 work programme 2018 - 2020. The draft WG6 R&I priorities will be shared with all WG6 members for further feedback within the next weeks.
The Photonics21 work group 7 workshop was held on 25 May 2016 at the Hilton Frankfurt Airport to further elaborate and define the work group 7 research and CSA priorities. The workshop participants currently revise the draft WG7 Research and CSA proposals which will then be shared with all WG7 members for further feedback within the next weeks.
For any background information on the photonics research and innovation prioritiy process for Horizon 2020 work programmes 2018 - 2020 please go to: http://www.photonics21.org/AboutPhotonics21/Photonics-PPP/Research-and-Innovation-Priorities.php
Photonics PPP project Photonics4All published an interesting video how photonics influences and changes our life
The Photonics PPP supported the event and is closely working with public and private fund-holders to seek additional funding beyond Horizon 2020 and better channel funding to where it’s needed.
At his introductional Key Note Speech Photonics21 Vice President Giorgio Anania, gave an overview on the current financial situation of photonics companies and also looked at the competitive gaps many entrepreneurs and SME’s face in Europe versus those markets with a much larger developed VC scene. He also looked at the tasks to do to make use of the chances the public financing tools by the EU institutions (EIB/EIF, InnoFin) offered for Key Enabling Technologies. A new Photonics PPP Task Force set up bringing together internal and external experts is striving to open up new sources of financing for photonics.
To read more click on the link below:
‘lab-in-a-box’ in photonics stimulates 125 000 young minds for STEM
Today we are proud to announce that a school in Finland has received the 2500th Photonics Explorer. Photonics Explorer is an educational kit,developed by the photonics research team B - PHOT at VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), for students of secondary schools to experiment with the different properties of light and photons. The concept is a 'lab-in-a-box' that enables students of the 2nd and 3rd grade to do photonics experiments themselves at school with lasers, LEDs, lenses, optical fibers, and other high-tech components.
The kit fits the learning objectives for sciences and pursues two main objectives of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). In the first instance Photonics Explorer links applications to real-world situations and to the life of young people. They discover for example how the polarization of light is crucial for LCD screens of smartphones and tablets, or how light can speed up the time to download movies from the Internet.
Furthermore, the kit is also built entirely around inquiry-based learning in which all students are involved, observing and reasoning actively. This hands-on approach gives students more confidence and stimulates their curiosity and problem-solving skills.
Photonics, or the science of light, which affects many aspects of our lives, can provide solutions to important future challenges for our society. For example in terms of energy with solar panels and smart LED lights, around optical sensors for self-driven cars and smart cities, through lighting technology for faster data networks, but also in the biomedical optical domain with new medical techniques.
125 000 young students potential STEM minds
Thanks to the 2500 Photonics Explorers, each year about 125 000 young people from
secondary schools in Europe learn about the wonderful world of light. The program on Photonics Explorer provides a workshop for teachers with a supportive educational framework. The durable kit contains relevant background on photonics, worksheets and other teaching material to make the experimental lessons very time efficient. Below you will find some quotes that reflect the experience of teachers. The 26 Local Associated Partners (LAPs) of Photonics Explorer across Europe organize teacher trainings and the distribution of kits in their particular region.
A selection of quotes teachers illustrate their positive experience on high usability in the classroom:
"This is a good concept, with many simple components that are really useful and practical for students." "The students are very curious and eager to work, they love to get started with the kit." "Photonics Explorer stimulates in a captivating way the scientific interest of the students." The experiences and more videos about Photonics Explorer can be viewed via http://www.eyest.eu/Programs/Photonics-Explorer.
Nathalie Debaes, CEO EYESTvzw responsible for the composition and global distribution of the kits:
"The Photonics Explorer was developed at the VUB by B-PHOT, as part of a European project and in collaboration with many international partners. The concept fits perfectly with the goals of STEM, to present science in an engaging and interactive way for young people of secondary schools. The interest of the schools and teachers is considerable: bringing 2500 Photonic Explorer kits to the schools reaches far beyond our expectation. The team behind Photonics Explorer continues its mission to motivate many young minds to work with photonics in all its applications."