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Featured Article 24 Jan 2014

Silicon Republic
January 24 2014

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Government have launched a new photonic integration centre in Cork that will look to harness the power of light in advanced ICT and medical technology.

As part of a €30m investment in the Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC), the SFI will bring together more than 100 researchers from three other institutes - University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Dublin City University (DCU) - to develop new light-enabled technologies.

The centre, based in Tyndall National Institute, will then collaborate with 18 industry partners, including multinationals, Irish SMEs and high-tech start-ups.

One such start-up is X-Celeprint, a developer in micro-transfer printing technology. The company will be establishing its headquarters in the IPIC, with the creation of 20 jobs.

Scope for further development

With the new centre, there are hopes the technology will develop to an extent that a further 200 jobs could be created in the key ICT and medical-device sectors over the next six years.

The Government will provide the largest portion of the annual funding. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through SFI’s Research Centres Programme, will provide €20m, with an additional €10m leveraged from industry contributors.

Paul Townsend, IPIC’s director, sees this as another fascinating addition to Ireland’s scope of technological research: “The launch of IPIC represents an exciting new chapter in photonic research in Ireland, which aims to achieve both measurable economic impact and global scientific recognition for Ireland in this sector.

“The centre brings together a full research ‘value chain’, with expertise that spans from semiconductor and biomaterials through integrated photonic and microelectronic circuits, to fully packaged photonic systems.”

The first example of a photonic integrated circuit was developed last year using a crystal capable of both localising and interfacing atoms with guided photons and has potential applications in quantum computing.

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