Project Overview

Overview image

The photonics industry in Europe accounted for revenues of €49 billion in 2006, a 12% growth on the previous year, prompting expectations that photonics production will soon exceed that of microelectronics in Europe. Photonics is an important enabling technology, with photonic devices such as semiconductor lasers and solar cells underpinning advances in areas as diverse as communications, energy, environment and life sciences. The rapid growth in the field is forecast to result in relevant qualified workforce shortages in the near future, a fact highlighted by the European Technology Platform, Photonics21, in its Strategic Research Agenda. The agenda identifies as key challenges for the next few years the training of qualified photonics researchers and the improvement of research coordination and cooperation across Europe.

This Marie Curie Initial Training Network, “Postgraduate Research on Photonics as an Enabling Technology” (PROPHET), aims to address these issues by training a cohort of 14 early stage researchers (ESRs) and 5 young experienced researchers (ERs) in the full gamut of skills required to undertake a career in photonics. The consortium, consisting of 9 academic partners, 4 full industry partners and 2 associate partners (one of whom is industry), are ideally positioned to impart these skills, with world-class expertise ranging from growth and fabrication, through structural and device characterisation and theory, up to instrument assembly and industrial applications. The strong industry involvement in the consortium ensures an application-specific, end-user target for the researchers’ training, and gives each network fellow experience of the industry workplace. The core skills of photonics can be applied across a wide range of applications, and this will be demonstrated by leveraging the same fundamental skills for specific applications in each of the four diverse areas of communications, energy, environment and life science. Each Work Package comprises a joint project involving 4 ESRs and 1 ER, with industry-specific objectives.

WP0: Management & Training

WP1: Photonics Enabling
Commmunications Applications

Quantum Dot
Mode-Locked Lasers

WP2: Photonics Enabling
Energy Applications

Photovoltaic Cells

WP3: Photonics Enabling
Environment Applications

Mid-infrared Lasers for
Gas Sensing

WP4: Photonics Enabling
Life Science Applications

Broadband Fast-Tunable Lasers for OCT

WP0: Management & Training

The training of the next generation of photonics researchers in PROPHET will be aided by secondments at industry partners, a series of network workshops, a summer school and a conference. The commitment and passion towards training and research of the assembled partners will guarantee network graduates with the multi-disciplinary capabilities to significantly contribute to the photonics knowledge-based economy, with wide-ranging and vibrant career opportunities. More…

WP1: Photonics Enabling Communications Applications

In communications, photonics has been the backbone of paradigm-changing advances such as fibre optics and broadband internet, and is set to continue this into the future with faster and higher capacity links. In PROPHET, we will focus on quantum dot mode-locked lasers at 1.3 μm and 1.55 μm for access networks, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and radio-over-fibre applications. More…

WP2: Photonics Enabling Energy Applications

The generation, management and use of energy has always been important to society, and is even more relevant today as fossil fuel resources dwindle and the effects of global warming become apparent. Renewable energy sources are increasingly in demand, and the enormous amount of light and heat available from the sun holds great potential as one such supply. PROPHET will explore novel photonic nanostructures in photovoltaic cells to improve the efficiency and economy of solar energy collection. More…

WP3: Photonics Enabling Environment Applications

Monitoring the environment, whether it be the level of pollutants in the atmosphere, or gaseous components in industrial manufacturing processes, has been well served by photonics, utilising infrared absorption characteristics for gas sensing. PROPHET will look to develop novel mid-infrared laser sources for improved efficiency and sensitivity in the detection of a range of important gases. More…

WP4: Photonics Enabling Life Science Applications

Photonics is also well established as an important enabling technology for the life science and health care fields, dating back to when the first microscopes were employed to unlock the fascinating world of cells and bacteria. The technology has unique advantages as a non-invasive, benign imaging method for a variety of imaging applications. In PROPHET, we aim to realise new compact broadband fast-tunable laser sources which will be particularly suited to Optical Coherence Tomography applications. More…


Project Objectives

  • To produce a cohort of well-qualified young photonics researchers with an industry-focussed and multi-disciplinary skill set
  • To develop new mode-locked lasers for communications applications
  • To advance the state-of-the-art in photovoltaic cells for energy applications
  • To develop mid-infrared laser sources for gas sensing in environmental applications
  • To improve the capabilities of optical coherence tomography for life sciences applications

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