Work Group 6 - Design and Manufacturing of Components and Systems

As a fundamental pillar of modern industry, a Key Enabling Technology, photonics underpins solutions for the widest possible range of socio-economic needs. For example, the Internet of today depends on the ubiquitous application of photonics in telecommunications infrastructure and, as our society become ever more information-intensive, our needs in this respect will continue to grow. Laser-based techniques have revolutionised manufacturing industry and medical procedures, whilst photonic sensors are indispensable in providing a safer environment.

These examples serve only to illustrate the wider fact that photonics is pervasive in modern life. There are numerous aspects that are generic to a wide range of applications: these are the enablers of our field and accordingly deserve focused attention in their own right. We accordingly emphasise here the development of technologies that have the potential to transform major sectors of our industry. In order to maximise the benefit to European society, it is vital that European industry is strong at every level, from devices and components through to systems, also embracing manufacturing equipment and methodologies.

Major photonics needs

Photonic technology is a critical enabler for an extremely broad range of industrial products and services, as well as a vital tool for scientific research across many disciplines. Although the economic impact may be most apparent at the higher levels of the food chain, for example in equipment and services (such as telecommunications, health care and manufacturing using laser tools), experience tells us that competitiveness here is vitally dependent upon access to the most advanced photonics technologies at the component level. Without differentiating technology, truly innovative products will surely be elusive, and, without strong support for discovery and innovation, we cannot achieve strong added-value production. We therefore emphasise the importance of a European supply chain in the strategically important areas of component and systems technology, embracing high-volume manufacturing as well as high-value, specialised components.

We set out a top-level agenda based on a number of key technical capabilities, including photonic integrated circuit (PIC) integration platforms, advanced semiconductor device technology, electro-optical circuit board technology, new materials, and new technologies such as nanophotonics, which constitute a prerequisite for Europe’s continued ability to innovate in photonics and to be competitive in manufacturing. These capabilities represent key enablers for a vibrant European components and systems industry, able to thrive in global markets and to deliver the socioeconomic benefits for Europe.

In addition to stimulating the development of new photonic technologies, it is vital that our programme facilitates the availability of, and access to, these technologies by innovators and entrepreneurs across the EU. We have accordingly identified a number of measures that are designed to ensure that new technology is brought to the marketplace in the most timely manner, managing the risk factors that might prove insuperable for any individual player. Our recommendations include pilot manufacturing capabilities in key constituent technologies, including photonic integrated circuits, integration of photonics with electronics, certain classes of semiconductor devices and high-functionality, photonic-enabled electronic systems. In this way, technologies requiring high initial investment may be brought to the point where entrepreneurs can ascertain their true value and take forward the task of building viable and vibrant businesses on established foundations, without taking commercially unacceptable risks.

Further information

The detailed Photonics21 Work Group 6 photonics research and innovation priorities are outlined if you download the photonics roadmap.

You will find the Work Group 6 research and innovation priorities for Horizon 2020 Work programme 2016/2017 in the section Photonics PPP - research and innovation priorities.

Information and presentations of the Work Group 6 workshops can be found in the Photonics21 member area.

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