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Advancing the manufacturing of next-generation light technologies

Annual Report 2017 A future manufacturing research hub

Contents 4 Executive summary 6 The ultimate enabling technology 8 Our Technology Platforms and Grand Challenge - High-Performance Silica Optical Fibres - Light Generation and Delivery - Silicon Photonics - Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials - Integration 24 Building agile capability 26 Making a positive contribution to the UK economy 28 Industrial engagement 30 Progress in promoting photonics 32 Photonics for the next generation 34 The Future Photonics Hub team 35 Industry partners


Introducing the Future Photonics Hub

The Future Photonics Hub is a partnership of two leading UK research institutes, the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton and the EPSRC National Epitaxy Facility at the University of Sheffield. We work with a network of over 40 companies, representing strategic UK industry sectors ranging from photonics to those enabled by photonics, such as telecommunications, healthcare, defence and aerospace.

Together, our combined expertise and facilities enable us to pursue integrated photonics manufacturing across an unprecedented range of platform technologies hitherto disconnected: optical fibres, III-V semiconductors, silicon, metamaterials and 2D materials. The Hub supports the rapid commercialisation of innovative emerging technologies by: 1. Leading research in four core photonics Technology Platforms 2. Tackling the Grand Challenge of Integration 3. Collaborating on specific industry-defined projects 4. Stimulating industry-driven manufacturing research through a regular Innovation Fund call

Vision Our primary objective is to transfer new, practical and commercial process technologies to industry, to accelerate the growth of the UK’s £12 billion photonics sector and support the £600 billion of UK manufacturing output that depends on this key enabling technology. The Hub is bridging the gap between academic research and product development, uniting the UK’s excellent science base with companies, R&D organisations and national funding agencies co-investing in developing a pathway to manufacture for the next generation of photonics technologies. Through our Hub, research is responding to the needs of industry to create new photonics materials, devices and components with ease of integration and production at their core. These transformational technologies will enable the UK to maintain a position of leadership in the high-value global photonics market, driving inward investment through innovation.


Executive summary

We have made great strides in bringing together the photonics community across the UK and beyond and in maximising the impact of Government investment.

Since its launch on 1 January 2016, the Future Photonics Hub has tripled the impact of its initial Government investment. By working with over 42 companies to help bring new photonics technologies to market, the Hub has generated an additional £11 million income from industry, and a further £10 million research funding has been competitively won. Our research across four key Technology Platforms is responding to specific industry needs and some important outcomes are already beginning to unfold.


In 2017 we have…

Developed a novel, industry-compatible fibre fabrication method which improves the performance of Tm-doped fibres, yielding a laser efficiency of 70% – a 10% improvement on slope efficiencies previously reported

Created new, Bismuthbased telecommunications lasers which are more efficient and consume less electrical power, a key factor in enabling the widescale deployment of smart sensing technologies

Realised low loss Si waveguides for sensing applications operating up to 8 μm and demonstrated a low-loss Ge-on-Si platform operating up to 8.5 μm

Reliably demonstrated >100 W average Hollow Core Fibre power delivery in anti-resonant fibres

Achieved thin film growth on previously incompatible substrates by harnessing a Van der Waals Epitaxy (VdWE) method

Manufactured a novel germanate glass fibre displaying record low attenuation and capable of optical amplification over short fibre lengths, responding to growing demand for ultra-compact amplifiers for high power short pulse lasers in the 2 µm wavelength region

Carried out a first proofof-principle study demonstrating a reflective light modulator based upon a dynamic Salisbury screen

Applied industry-preferred fabrication techniques to produce quantum dot lasers, delivering improved efficiency, temperature stability and reduced power consumption

“Photonics is a major UK strength. We know from experience the astonishing range of innovative ideas that emerge when scientists and engineers think about manufacturing. “The key is to work with industry to understand the opportunity, not only to improve existing manufacturing methods, but to develop entirely new ways of making things.” Professor Sir David Payne Director, The Future Photonics Hub Director, The Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton


The ultimate enabling technology

Photonics, the science and technology of light, has limitless applications that affect nearly every aspect of our lives. From critical components within our mobile phones, to the physical infrastructure that powers the internet, and industrial lasers used in manufacturing – simply stated, photonics is everywhere. Enabling key industry sectors These are just a few examples of the broad applications of photonics technologies:


Harsh environment sensors for oil & gas

LIDAR for autonomous vehicles

Silicon photonics for data centres

Laser-written diagnostics for healthcare

Integrated photonics for quantum technology

Sensors for security

Head-up displays for aviation

High power fibre lasers for manufacturing

Optical fibres for high bandwidth telecommunications

Economic growth potential Photonics technologies therefore provide huge potential for economic growth and innovation. The UK’s internationallyrenowned research base, spanning all aspects of photonics, has given rise to a globally significant industry which continues to expand at an impressive rate. UK photonics manufacturing industry

Value An industry worth

£12.9 bn to the UK economy and growing at

>5% annually




65,000 1500


people employed in

value add per employee,




average productivity

of output exported

Source: The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Photonics Leadership Group (PLG), June 2017

With the current growth in photonics manufacturing and photonics-enabled industries, now is the time to focus on making next-generation light technologies easier to produce and embed into products and systems. Our research in photonics manufacturing and integration at this critical stage is enabling the UK to secure a significant competitive advantage in a global industry estimated to be worth some £400bn.


Our four core Technology Platforms

Our research targets both new emerging technologies which stand to have the greatest impact on industry, and long-standing challenges in photonics manufacturing which have so far hindered large-scale industrial uptake.

Our key target is to develop the important ‘Pervasive Technologies’ identified in the UK Foresight report on the future of manufacturing1, through research conducted in four core Technology Platforms: High-Performance Silica Optical Fibres, Light Generation and Delivery, Silicon Photonics and Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials. The key to producing low-cost components and systems is integration. Optical fibres, planar waveguide technologies, metamaterials and III-V semiconductors cannot yet be combined in a cost-efficient integrated manufacturing process. In direct consultation with over 40 companies, Catapults and Innovative Manufacturing Centres we identified a clear business need to reduce complexity of incorporating next-generation photonics into high-value systems. In response, we have chosen integration as our ‘Grand Challenge’ and aim to deliver solutions to this industry-wide issue.

Our leading research capabilities The Hub is led by a unique partnership between the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton, and the EPSRC National Epitaxy Facility at the University of Sheffield, which ensures that photonics innovation is at the core of our work. Some examples of our extensive track record in research and enterprise include: n Our

innovations navigate airliners, cut steel, mark iPads, manufacture life-saving medical devices and power the internet

n Our

optical fibres, invented and made in Southampton, are on the Moon, Mars and the International Space Station

n Our

epitaxial wafers and devices, produced in Sheffield, have enabled world-class semiconductor research in the UK since 1979

n Our

combined portfolio of start-ups now exceeds 12 companies

n Our

expertise is underpinned by over £200m of state-of-the-art fabrication facilities

1. Foresight (2013). ‘The Future of Manufacturing: A new era of opportunity and challenge for the UK Project Report’. Ref: BIS/13/809. The Government Office for Science, London.


Core Technology Platforms

High-Performance Silica Optical Fibres

Light Generation and Delivery

Optical fibres are essential components in many photonic devices and systems – from the ready transmission and amplification of light to massively-high power levels. The key challenge in fibre manufacture is improving its loss, gain and power handling characteristics.

User-driven manufacturing processes will increase integration and the unification of diverse manufacturing platforms in III-V epitaxy, metamaterials, Si-SOI fabrication methods and functional fibre geometries.

Silicon Photonics Achieving integration with optical fibres, light-sources and key processes of waferlevel manufacturing to enable devices such as low-cost transceivers for data centres and mid-IR sensors.

Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials Developing costeffective, reliable and volume-scalable methods to fabricate these novel materials in order to enable their practical exploitation in applications such as telecommunications, displays and sensors.

Grand Challenge: Integration Achieving integration is the dominant theme that unites the world’s photonics industries. The photonics industry today can be likened to the early days of electronics when individual components were wired together resulting in inevitable cost and scaling implications. Today’s photonics components are not yet compatible with a single manufacturing platform and this represents a major industrial challenge.


Platform performance report: High-Performance Silica Optical Fibres

Developing high-power and highly-efficient thulium (Tm)-doped optical fibre technology Challenge The last decade has witnessed unprecedented progress in high-power fibre laser technology. Thulium (Tm)-doped silica fibre lasers are especially attractive as they provide a route to power scaling in the 2 Âľm eye-safe wavelength band, and can be pumped by commercially available, high-power laser diodes which operate around 793 nm. Furthermore, by optimising the dopant concentration within the Tm fibre core, a beneficial two-for-one cross-relaxation process can be exploited allowing efficiencies far-above the quantum limit for 793 nm pumped Tm-doped fibre lasers. Efforts to optimise the core composition to enhance this process have been the subject of many studies. However, as yet, the best slope efficiencies reported for high power cladding-pumped Tm-doped silica fibre lasers remain around 60%, well below the theoretical maximum of ~80%.


Progress The focus of our research has been on Tm fibre development work, targeted at improving the two-for-one cross-relaxation efficiency by engineering the core glass composition and rare-earth doping profiles. We have developed a novel fibre fabrication technique to improve the performance of Tm-doped fibres, yielding a laser efficiency of around 70%. The proposed fabrication route offers an additional degree of freedom on active fibre design and allows a high Tm concentration in fibre. This is suitable for high-power applications and fully compatible with conventional fibre manufacturing processes.

Future plans The next step is to further improve the fabrication process leading to laser efficiencies even closer to the theoretical limit. We will also work on the fabrication of a large-core and low numerical aperture (NA) fibre for power scaling two-micron fibre lasers. Compared to ytterbium (Yb)-doped fibre lasers at around the 1 Âľm wavelength, this eye-safe midinfrared (IR) range is of great interest for a number of applications, including in security and defence, plastic machining and laser surgery, and is an important stepping stone for wavelength generation further into the mid-IR band.


Platform performance report: Light Generation and Delivery

Demonstrating kW-class average power laser delivery in Hollow Core Fibres (HCF) Challenge Our challenge is to progress work on Hollow Core Fibre (HCF) power delivery in anti-resonant fibres (both at near-infrared (IR) and mid-IR wavelengths) and increase the fibre yield per draw.

Progress Fibres for power delivery We have focused on delivering high average power (near-IR) laser light in tubular antiresonant fibres, with the ultimate objective of demonstrating kilowatt-class average power laser delivery. This research has been well-aligned to a parallel industrial project in which we are working towards developing similar fibres for a specific end-application. To date, we have demonstrated reliable capability at the >100 W regime. This complements our 2016 work on pulsed fibre laser delivery, where we demonstrated the capability to deliver >200 MW peak power picosecond pulses over ~10 metre length scales and identified the limiting impact of parasitic nonlinear effects in air (avoidable by evacuating the fibre). Over the last year of the project, we have further developed the theoretical framework and associated code necessary to model these gas-based, largely Raman, nonlinear effects. Our model will be useful in developing future nonlinear frequency conversion-based sources. New fibre structures based on a tubular core surround, connected to a Kagome-style lattice cladding, have also been developed and are currently being refined. These have been designed to enable easier fibre fabrication, cleaving and splicing. We have established strong links to end-users of Kagome fibres for mid-IR power delivery applications, including supplying samples for use in the medical industry. We also began a healthcare-related collaboration with the University of Oxford, working on laser delivery at 3.1 Îźm for use in diagnosing lung disease and breath analysis. This research will now be advanced with support from a recently awarded grant from the Innovation Fund.


Finally, we have produced anti-resonant fibre with relatively low losses (~10-20 dB/km) at visible wavelengths in the range 600-800 nm. Having already demonstrated HCF with lower losses than are possible to achieve in solid fibres at long wavelengths, we are now close to replicating this performance with HCF in the short wavelength regime. The next steps are to continue translating all the merits of HCF propagation into the visible light regime. Volume manufacturing of HCF With the use of industrial funding, the University of Southampton’s fibre fabrication facility has been upgraded to enable longer, larger diameter HCF preforms to be drawn. By doubling the bore of our furnace and extending the draw tower’s height, we are now able to achieve a faster draw rate and handle preforms 50% greater in length. Early fibre draws have shown excellent fibre consistency and structural quality and, combined with our new dual-coating capability to assist in reducing micro-bending, these improvements mean we are now extremely well-positioned to pursue volume-scaling the preform yield to the 20-30 km regime.


Platform performance report: Light Generation and Delivery

Developing lasers with reduced power consumption Challenge Our main challenge has been to develop new lasers which consume less power for energy efficient optical networks, integrated photonic chips and quantum technologies.

Progress Lowering the total power consumption of lasers is a key challenge for most photonic applications. In telecommunications networks the reduction of power consumption reduces the overall efficiency of the network but also, crucially, allows lasers to operate without active cooling, dramatically reducing packaging and controlelectronics costs. In applications such as remote sensing, developing low power lasers will enable the wide-scale deployment of smart sensing technology, including the potential to use energy harvesting technologies to power photonic and electronic components. In consultation with industry leaders in the field, our research has focused on creating novel laser structures and laser manufacturing technologies with power reduction at the core of their design. Progress has been made across the three main strands of the project: Telecommunications lasers We have developed telecommunication lasers using Bismuth, resulting in improved efficiency and reduced electrical power consumption. A new semiconductor epitaxy process has also been established to enable the use of Bismuth in semiconductor lasers. We will now focus on achieving improvements in the operating characteristics. Lasers using quantum dots By harnessing quantum dot technology, we have reduced the electrical current required for laser operation. Quantum dots are nanoscale structures similar to large molecules, which have unique optical and electrical properties. Introducing quantum dots into the active element of a laser has enabled us to improve its efficiency and temperature stability. Manufacturability To facilitate the efficient mass manufacturing of our telecoms lasers, we have applied the preferred industrial process, Metal Organic Vapour Phase Epitaxy (MOVPE), to their production. We recently demonstrated quantum dot lasers using this fabrication technique and are focusing on achieving further reductions in power consumption through adapting the laser design and epitaxy methods.1 1. Optimisation of InAs/GaAs Quantum Dot lasers grown by MOVPE, B.A. Harrison, T.S. Roberts, A. Krysa, E. Clarke, P. Fry, X. Chen, D. J. Mowbray, G. Duggan, J. Heffernan; UK Semiconductors Conference (July 2017)


Ultra-compact optical amplifier in the 2 µm wavelength region Challenge Our main challenge has been to develop a new class of optical fibre amplifier for short pulse lasers operating in the 2 µm wavelength region. There is a growing demand for this type of laser, with applications requiring increasingly higher power outputs in turn demanding adequate amplifiers. To mitigate optical nonlinear effects arising at high peak powers, the optical path of the light inside the amplifier length must be as short as possible. The silica glass used as standard in optical fibres only allows for a low doping concentration in the amplifying Tm3+ ions, hence long fibre lengths are required to achieve suitable amplification levels. In contrast, our research seeks to develop an optical fibre platform based on a different class of glass, capable of realising optical amplifiers just centimetres in length.

Progress We have identified the germanate family of glasses as one of the most promising materials for developing ultra-compact fibre amplifiers operating at 2 µm wavelengths. Through experimental iterations, we have designed a novel glass composition and developed a reproducible synthesis process. Our glass material offers an ideal combination of thermo-mechanical properties, high concentration doping in amplifying Tm3+ ions and suitable transparency across the mid-infrared (IR) region. Following the material development phase, we have manufactured an optical fibre with a large optically guiding core, especially suited for efficient amplification over short fibre lengths. The manufacturing process proved very stable in terms of fibre diameter fluctuation (±1 µm), which illustrates the quality of both the glass synthesised and the implemented drawing processes. The germanate glass optical fibre was then characterised to confirm its morphological features and, more importantly, its optical attenuation. The fibre developed displayed the lowest optical attenuations recorded for this type of fibre (1.2 dB/m at 980 nm). Its absorption characteristics, determined by the presence of the active Tm3+ ions, were also found to be consistent to those measured on bulk glass samples. This observation suggests that the glass properties remain unaltered throughout the fibre drawing process. More recently, a short section (8.3 cm) of fibre has been inserted in a laser cavity to assess possible optical amplification. Observation of lasing has confirmed that optical amplification occurs.

Future plans Whilst these preliminary assessments prove very promising, we believe that substantial improvements to the material quality can still be achieved. Our future research will look to refine the glass melting procedure, reduce any further O-H chemical bonds inside the glass, improve the glass homogeneity and develop fibres with a double cladding structure to achieve higher optical amplification levels by exploiting high pump power laser diode technology. 15

Platform performance report: Silicon Photonics

Silicon photonics platforms for mid-infrared wavelength range emitters and detectors Challenge Our main challenge is manufacturing silicon and germanium photonic material platforms which reach their transparency limits at 8 and 15 microns respectively. We aim to design, fabricate and characterise low loss mid-infrared (mid-IR) photonic circuits suitable for integration with semiconductor devices such as lasers, LEDs and detectors in order to demonstrate compact and low cost sensors for a range of applications.

Research progress Our research has focused on the fabrication of germanium-on-silicon (Ge-on-Si), suspended silicon and suspended germanium platforms and their characterisation at longer wavelengths. We have fabricated devices in each of these three platforms, and characterised them at a range of wavelengths, using experimental setups built during 2016. These platforms have enabled a number of notable achievements including the realisation of low loss Si waveguides for sensing applications operating up to 8 μm and the demonstration of a low-loss Ge-on-Si platform operating up to 8.5 μm. We have also made progress in designing passive Si photonics circuits suitable for integration with our mid-IR quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). There is particular demand in smart sensor technologies for new types of lasers in the mid-IR spectral range to detect very low concentrations of chemicals, gases and other environmental elements, for example in pollution monitoring and breathe analysis applications. We have developed QCL structures that will lead to lower power consumption on the chip – an important factor in device integration in order to achieve chips that are maximally compact – and conducted extensive design and simulation of Si/Ge waveguide structures to improve the efficiency of laser light collection and to guide it towards the detectors. Key improvements to the process for fabricating suspended Ge waveguides were also made. Finally, developing of a micro-transfer printing method to pickand-place QCLs directly on the Si/Ge substrate is being investigated as part of a new collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, supported by our Innovation Fund.


Future plans Our next steps are to investigate the reasons for higher losses of Ge-on-Si devices at longer wavelengths (>8.5 Îźm) and demonstrate a library of passive devices in suspended Si at longer wavelengths. We will also pursue realising suspended Ge devices using our novel sub-wavelength grating approach (which operates up to 15 Îźm) and the integration of QCLs with passive Si photonics circuits manufactured in our cleanrooms. We also plan to investigate QCL integration with our other material platforms (Ge-on-Si and suspended Ge). With guidance from industrial partners, this will pave the way towards creating an integrated photonics sensor demonstrator for gas and biochemical/biomedical applications.


Platform performance report: Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials Manufacture and application of 2D materials Challenge Our challenge has been to develop manufacturing techniques for 2D and thin film materials which meet the needs of industry, in particular through transfer methods and wafer-scale processing.

Progress Due to industry interest, we have continued to focus on the material family which includes graphene, MoS2, WS2, MoSe2, WSe2, Bi2Se3, Bi2Te3, and h-BN. Alongside developing and refining our manufacturing methods based on chemical vapour deposition (CVD) and atomic layer deposition (ALD), we have recently employed Van der Waals Epitaxy (VdWE), to successfully achieve thin film growth on previously incompatible substrates. Our research in functional chalcogenides and emerging 2D materials has been driven by a wide range of technology challenges spanning photonics, electronics and nanotechnology. Projects have included developing materials for use in data storage and phase-change memory, displays, photovoltaics, photocatalysts, nano-electronics and other emerging devices in quantum technologies. This work has generated eight publications to date, including invited talks at international conferences in Europe and South America. To ensure that our research retains its strong alignment with industry needs, we have directly engaged nine UK companies over the last year. Five of these went on to fund projects with us and we remain in open dialogue with the rest. Our underpinning interdisciplinary approach to research enables us to develop novel materials for a variety of applications. Collaborations have included developing transistors for biosensing with the University of Southampton’s Centre for Hybrid Biodevices, assimilating our thin films with the University of Oxford’s Wearable and Flexible Technologies (WAFT) research programme, and integrating our materials into 3D photonic crystals being developed by the University of Bristol for use in quantum technologies. We have also begun a project with Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore which aims to incorporate our 2D materials in liquid crystals for display applications. This builds on our prior demonstration of light enhancement from 2D transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers (TMDCs) coupled with 1D photonic crystal nanocavity.

Future plans Our primary objectives for the forthcoming year are to deliver solutions to two key challenges identified by industry partners: the development of 2D materials which can be processed at low temperatures, typically < 400oC, and the expansion of our capabilities up to 8-inch wafer scale.


Case study: Seagate Ireland Industry challenge: Demand for data storage continues to grow at over 40% per annum, in part as a result of the increasing movement of data to the cloud. The transducer is a critical component in heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), one of the next-generation data storage technologies that promises to greatly increase the capacity of hard drive devices. The UK currently manufactures 25% of the world’s transducers, creating a unique opportunity to grow this market by responding to the escalating need for highly-complex nano-engineered components. Aims: The Hub is working to develop advanced materials designed to improve product performance and competitiveness for Seagate Ireland. Seagate is the global leader in data storage solutions which manufactures its specialist hard drive components in Northern Ireland. Working with UK materials innovation company Ilika Technologies, the project focused on developing smart nanophotonic materials to be used in the writing component for new Seagate hard drives based on Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). The project specifically aimed to overcome a major barrier to the commercialisation of HAMR hard drive technology. The issue concerned the writing components in prototype HAMR hard drives which have to operate reliably under high performance demands and fluctuating temperatures. Outcomes: Our collaboration has contributed a potential solution by creating a key component using a new functional material which self-compensates for thermal effects, as well as providing other device capabilities which improve read write transducer functionality in cutting edge hard drive products. Materials with enhanced thermal conductivity have been processed at Seagate’s wafer fabrication facility. Further electrical testing verified the improved thermal effects in the transducer, and an improvement in setting the distance between the head and the disk of over 10%. This enabled Seagate’s product launch date to be brought forward, and its new HAMR hard drives are now due to reach the market in early 2019.

“This is the first time that Seagate Ireland has ever gone outside to do material development.” Mark Gubbins, Seagate Ireland.


Platform performance report: Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials


Discovering, reconfiguring and integrating metamaterials Challenge Developing new functional metamaterials and processes for the low-cost and highthroughput manufacturing of metamaterials and integration with optoelectronics, planar waveguides and optical fibre technologies.

Progress High-throughput materials discovery Using high-throughput Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) and characterisation techniques, our work has focused on exploring the potential of chalcogenides as compositionally-tunable alternatives to noble metals for ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) plasmonics, metasurfaces and ‘epsilon-near-zero’ (ENZ) photonics1. Chalcogenides represent a unique CMOS-compatible material platform, capable of providing high-index dielectric, plasmonic, ENZ or topological insulator properties when the constituent elements are combined in the right proportions. We have produced thin-film chalcogenide samples by co-deposition of programmed elemental density gradients, such that the composition varies continuously over a substrate. This has enabled positional mapping of optical, electronic, structural and thermal properties. Our investigation of binary (Bi:Te and Sb:Te) and ternary (Bi:Sb:Te) alloys has shown them to exhibit a plasmonic response (a negative value of the real part of relative permittivity 1) in their amorphous and/or crystalline states at UV-Vis wavelengths. We have shown compositional variation to provide an effective means of tuning the width of the spectral band over which a material is plasmonic (with wavelengths at which 1 = 0 is as low as 250 nm and as high as 980 nm), and the corresponding losses ( 2). Reconfigurable nanomechanical metamaterials We have continued to develop the functionality of nanomechanical metamaterial devices, including achieving several scientific firsts. These include our first proof-ofprinciple study demonstrating a reflective light modulator based upon a dynamic Salisbury screen2. This was shown to deliver 50% modulation of the reflected near-infrared (IR) light intensity and by variation of the metasurface design, the concept can be extended to control the polarisation, phase and spectrum of the reflected light. We have also experimentally demonstrated optical bistability in nonlinear nano-optomechanical metamaterials at sub-milliwatt power levels and telecoms wavelengths3,4. Optical bistability is a path to achieving highly sought-after optical memory functionality.

1. D. Piccinotti, B. Gholipour, J. Yao, K. F. MacDonald, B. E. Hayden, and N. I. Zheludev, “Combinatorial Search for Plasmonic and Epsilon-Near-Zero Chalcogenide Alloys,” in Conference on Lasers and ElectroOptics - Europe / European Quantum Electronics Conference 2017, Munich, Germany, 2017. 2. P. Cencillo-Abad, J. Ou, E. Plum, and N. I. Zheludev, “Electro-mechanical light modulator based on controlling the interaction of light with a metasurface,” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, p. 5405, 2017. 3. J. Y. Ou, A. Karvounis, K. F. MacDonald, and N. I. Zheludev, “Optical Bistability in Optomechanical Metamaterial at Sub-milliwatt Power Levels,” in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics - Europe / European Quantum Electronics Conference 2017, Munich, Germany, 2017. 4. E. Plum, J. Ou, A. Karvounis, K. F. MacDonald, and N. I. Zheludev, “Optomechanical metasurfaces,” in OSA Incubator Meeting on Materials for Optomechanical Actuation, Washington DC, USA, 2017.


Platform performance report: Integration

Integrating metamaterials and metadevices with optical fibre waveguides Challenge Our challenge is to integrate metasurfaces and active metadevices with optical fibre platforms. This is essential if the full potential of these materials in application areas such as ICT and sensing2 is to be realised.

Progress Our most recent progress in addressing this Grand Challenge has included the development of a dielectric metamaterial (an asymmetric grating with a subwavelength period), fabricated in a thin layer of silicon on a fibre end facet (Figures 1a & 1b). This material showed a transmission resonance with a quality factor exceeding 300 and corresponding group dispersion at over 0.3 ps1, 3. At only a few tens of nanometres thick, such facet gratings can be used for dispersion compensation, in compact interconnects and sensing. Other devices realised include: n A

fully fiberised and packaged metadevice for all-optical signal modulation, based on coherent absorption4 (Figures 1c & 1d). This relates to a rapidly emerging area of major current interest in photonics technology concerned with exploiting the difference in manifestations of optical properties of thin films in traveling and standing waves5. Developments in this field promise to impact on optical data processing, spectroscopy, and nonlinear/quantum optics.

n A

metadevice which controls light-with-light by modulating absorption in a nanoscale plasmonic metamaterial, coupled to a pair of optical fibres. Nonlinear input-output characteristics and all-optical operations, analogous to logical functions NOT, AND and XOR, have been demonstrated at up to 40 GHz bitrates and sub-milliwatt power levels, within a coherent fibre network at 1530-1565 nm wavelengths.




Metadevice package

Core ø10µm





Platinum Si Glass

500 nm

Figure 1: Fibre-integrated photonic metadevices Anti-clockwise from top-left: a) Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of a fibre end facet upon which a silicon nano-grating metasurface has been manufactured over the core area. b) Metasurface detail of (a) [period 930 nm], with image of a cross-section inset. c) Photograph of a fiberised coherent absorption modulator. d) F unctional schematic illustration of (b), showing a four-port device configuration, comprising two counter-propagating input beams [ and ] incident on a sub-wavelength thickness metamaterial absorber. This has been fabricated on the end facet of a polarisation-maintaining fibre, shown in the inset SEM images, and two output beams, [ and ].

1. P. Cencillo-Abad, J. Ou, E. Plum, and N. I. Zheludev, “Electro-mechanical light modulator based on controlling the interaction of light with a metasurface,” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, p. 5405, 2017. 2. A. Xomalis, D. Piccinotti, A. Karvounis, I. Demirtzioglou, V. Savinov, B. Gholipour, et al., “Merging Photonic Metamaterial and Optical Fiber Technologies,” in Integrated Photonics Research, Silicon, and Nano-Photonics, New Orleans, LA, USA, 2017. 3. V. Savinov and N. I. Zheludev, “High-quality metamaterial dispersive grating on the facet of an optical fiber,” Applied Physics Letters, vol. 111, p. 091106, 2017. 4. A. Xomalis, I. Demirtzioglou, E. Plum, Y. Jung, V. Nalla, C. Lacava, et al., “Fibre-optic metadevice for all-optical signal modulation based on coherent absorption,” Nature Communications, vol. 9, p. 182, 2018. 5. E. Plum, K. F. MacDonald, X. Fang, D. Faccio, and N. I. Zheludev, “Controlling the Optical Response of 2D Matter in Standing Waves,” ACS Photonics, vol. 4, pp. 3000-3011, 2017.


Building agile capability

Our ÂŁ1 million Innovation Fund is supporting new avenues of research which are arising in response to the evolving demands of industry. Our dynamic model is achieved through regular thematic calls for proposals which stimulate new industry-focused research partnerships with academia. This ensures that the Hub remains agile and responsive to emerging industrial needs and helps drive the UK photonics manufacturing ecosystem. Our second Innovation Fund call was launched in November 2017, seeking proposals to increase the depth and breadth of our existing capabilities within the four Technology Platforms and Grand Challenge of Integration. From 23 applications, five projects were funded. Adding to the four projects funded in 2016, the total value of Innovation Fund grants awarded to date now stands at ÂŁ0.5 million*. 2017 Innovation Fund projects: n Measuring

lung inhomogeneity by paediatric cystic fibrosis, University of Cambridge

n Large-scale

manufacturing of metamaterials with direct laser writing, University of Southampton

n Integrated

graphene on Ge/SI platform for mid-IR photodetectors, University of Cambridge

n Chiral

light sensor fabricated by chiral light, University of Oxford

n Low

cost manufacturing of integrated LIDAR arrays, University of Southampton and Imperial College London

*Grants funded at 80% FEC

Hub University of Southampton University of Sheffield Innovation Fund partners 2016-2017 Heriot-Watt University University of Bristol University of Cambridge University of Oxford University of Southampton with Imperial College, London University of Southampton with Phoenix Photonics University of Strathclyde Industry partners International industry partners by country Distribution of UK photonics industry activity




China Italy 25

Making a positive contribution to the UK economy Our first two years of operation have focused on delivering core research within our four Technology Platforms and conducting specific projects with UK industry.

Our industrial engagement programme aims to stimulate collaborative research and development projects with companies in the photonics supply chain and photonics-enabled sectors, such as telecommunications, healthcare, defence and aerospace. We work with businesses of all sizes, ranging from multinationals to SMEs, as well as engaging with key representatives of UK industry to raise awareness of the value of photonics both in delivering transformational manufacturing technologies and driving economic growth. Our research projects target new, practical solutions to photonics manufacturing challenges and help accelerate the commercialisation of new UK-manufactured technologies, to the advantage of the UK economy.

Industry collaborations We have secured significant funding in each of our four Technology Platforms, working with companies involved in the photonics supply chain and photonicsenabled industries such as materials processing, energy, data storage and automotive. Whilst in 2017 there has been particularly high demand for industry-driven research in the area of Light Generation and Delivery, we have undertaken a wide variety of collaborative projects, ranging from supplying bespoke materials to establishing extensive research programmes, including working with Seagate Ireland to develop new hard drive technology (see Case study, page 19).

Over ÂŁ6.1M new industry collaborations

42 projects over four Technology Platforms



industry sectors: sensing, defence, photonics, data comms and storage,  LIDAR for autonomous vehicles and advanced materials

Industrial engagement Technology Platform

Direct industry contributions* High-Performance Silica Optical Fibre

£1,136,100 Light Generation and Delivery

£2,355,900 Silicon Photonics

£2,301,900 Large-Scale Manufacturing of Metamaterials & 2D Materials

£242,500 Integration

£164,000 £0k


Cumulative income, January 2016 - December 2017 32%: competitively won grants £9,957,400 33%: core funding £10,220,300

35%: industrial funding £10,964,200

18%: industry projects under our core Technology Platforms £5,673,100 *Based on signed contracts from industrial collaborations, since 2016

17%: industrial contracts leveraged by the Hub £5,291,100 27

Industrial engagement

UK events Through maintaining prominence at key UK events, we have further expanded our national reach and embedded our central role in the photonics community. Events in 2017 included exhibiting at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Photonics “Industry Showcase”, held at the House of Commons for an audience of industry representatives and MPs, and demonstrating our technologies at the launch of the BAE Systems University Engagement Strategy, where we were one of five research institutions selected to participate. We also hosted a Q&A session at Photonex, the UK’s largest photonics trade show, to open the call for applications to our 2017 Innovation Fund. Our first industry day, held in Southampton in September 2016, was attended by more than 125 delegates and featured an exhibition of 35 UK photonics companies. The day included a keynote speech by Dr Andrew Rickman OBE, CEO and Chairman of Rockley Photonics, speed-networking with Hub researchers and cleanroom tours. In 2017, we co-organised a hugely successful satellite meeting in Coventry, targeting silicon photonics adoption in UK industry. The one-day event, held in parallel to the Photonex 2017 trade show, was attended by over 100 delegates. We are currently planning to host an even larger-scale industry day in 2018.


Representing the Hub worldwide We use a range of mechanisms to connect with companies and prospective partners, from securing features on our latest developments in relevant trade press to hosting bilateral meetings and visits to our facilities. Events and exhibitions are a key part of the Hub’s industrial engagement strategy, enabling us to open up discussions on both specific industry needs and sector-wide challenges in manufacturing, and providing an opportunity to demonstrate our research capabilities. To date, our team has represented the Hub at 40 conferences, trade shows and networking meetings across the UK and in six countries across North America, Europe and Asia. We have exhibited at some of the world’s largest and best-known international conferences, helping promote UK photonics capability through activities including: n Exhibiting

as part of the UK Pavilion at SPIE Photonics West 2017 in San Francisco, the world’s largest annual event for the photonics, laser, and biomedical optics industries. Discussions with visitors to the exhibition stand generated over 20 strong leads. Our researchers were equally well-represented in the conference with their work featured in 34 papers and posters.

n Co-hosting

an industry networking reception with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the Knowledge and Transfer Network (KTN) and Innovate UK, to mark the launch of our joint market report on the UK photonics industry. This event was just one aspect of the Hub’s strong presence at Laser World of Photonics, Munich 2017, one of the world’s leading photonics trade fairs, attended by 32,000 people. Hub Director, Professor Sir David Payne, also gave a plenary speech on the impact of photonics in transforming communications and manufacturing at the associated CLEO Europe conference, run in parallel to the exhibition.


Progress in promoting photonics

Influence In commitment to providing national leadership in photonics, we have taken an active role in the dialogue around UK manufacturing and industrial strategy. Working with the Photonics Leadership Group (PLG), an association representing the UK photonics industry, we supported a debate of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Photonics, held at Westminster to discuss the impact of the UK photonics industry and autonomous vehicle sensing. We have also contributed our expertise to various Government appraisals, including engaging with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reviews of National Security and Infrastructure Investment and Patient Capital, and responding to consultations on the Industrial Strategy and Ministry of Defence (MoD) Science and Technology Strategy. The focus of our 2017 communications activity has been to increase awareness of the Hub and the impact of photonics technologies amongst our broad range of stakeholders. We have delivered a programme of activities targeting different audiences, including engaging directly with the photonics and end-user community at global exhibitions and conferences, securing coverage in trade press, and running social media campaigns to promote photonics through striking imagery and stories of general public appeal.

Communications Our highlights for the year included a full-page feature on our high power fibre lasers research in the Photonics West Show Daily, the official magazine of the SPIE Photonics West Conference, which was distributed to the event’s 23,000 attendees. The article prompted significant interest at our exhibition stand which also appeared in the show preview. The GREAT campaign continued to bring exposure for the Hub in 2017, particularly at SPIE Photonics West where our iconic fibre laser poster was used as the flagship image for the UK Pavilion and in a UKTI social media campaign to promote UK photonics across the world. The poster has also been spotted in numerous locations, including at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3. In June, we published a report on the size of the UK photonics manufacturing industry, in collaboration with Innovate UK, the KTN and the Photonics Leadership Group. This included updates on the value of the photonics industry to the UK economy, rate of growth employment figures for the sector and percentage of global exports. The data was widely reported in trade press and was used to develop an interactive map, designed to help users find UK photonics companies by their geographical location and specialist sub-sector. Alongside a series of six press releases announcing our latest research developments, we also produced a feature-length article for B2B magazine Novus Light Technologies Today. The piece emphasised the pivotal role of photonics in enabling the increased automation and data exchange required for future manufacturing, or ‘Industry 4.0’.


Our regular electronic newsletter has been successful in keeping our mailing list of nearly 900 subscribers abreast of news, events, and funding opportunities throughout the year. Reader engagement with this publication is strong with an average open rate of more than 40%, over twice the sector average. Our social media presence on platforms such as Twitter, has grown considerably through using the @PhotonicsHub handle to interact with our industry partners, other research organisations and popular science communities. Throughout the coming year, we plan to further increase our social media engagement and develop our website to include new content and functionality.

Our Technology is GREAT poster at Heathrow Terminal 3


Photonics for the next generation

In 2017, the University of Southampton was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its world-leading expertise in ‘harnessing the power of light’. The Award panel particularly noted our photonics outreach activities as an area of strength. Our outreach programme engages with schools and the public to raise awareness of the impact of photonics on our daily lives and to promote opportunities to study and pursue careers in physics. A key aim of the programme is to reach underserved audiences, including working with ‘Widening Participation’ (WP) schools and encouraging greater gender equality in the science and technology fields. In 2017 we delivered a suite of activities, including performing with our travelling Light Express Roadshow, holding a series of hands-on workshops run by our student-led Light Wave outreach team, and providing free photonics kits to schools, alongside training for teachers, with support from EU-funded outreach projects (Photonics4All, PHABLABS 4.0 and Eyest Photonics Explorer Kits). To date, we have worked with: n Over 10,550 school pupils, college students, teachers and members of the public n Over 90 schools n And delivered over 75 events, in partnership with eight different organisations. We have successfully reached a range of people, including large numbers of parents and members of the general public (comprising 50% of our total audience), as well as GCSE and A Level students (33% of total audience) and teachers, who play a pivotal role in inspiring new generations of photonics researchers with knowledge and motivation.


If I decide to come to university in Southampton and do light science itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because of Light Wave. Year 6 pupil, Springhill Catholic Primary School.


The Future Photonics Hub team


Deputy Director and Manager: Professor Gilberto Brambilla, University of Southampton

Business Development Manager: Tom Carr, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor Martin Charlton, University of Southampton

Coordinator: Ruth Churchill, University of Southampton

Deputy Director: Professor Jon Heffernan, University of Sheffield

Co-Investigator: Professor Dan Hewak, University of Southampton

Public Engagement Leader: Pearl John, University of Southampton

Industrial Liaison Manager: Dr John Lincoln

Co-Investigator: Professor Goran Mashanovich, University of Southampton

Principle Investigator and Director: Professor Sir David Payne, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor Francesco Poletti, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor Graham Reed, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor David Richardson, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor Jayanta Sahu, University of Southampton

Marketing Manager: Rebecca Whitehead, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor Michalis Zervas, University of Southampton

Co-Investigator: Professor Nikolay Zheludev, University of Southampton

Industry partners

Our current industry partners include: n Carbon


n Defence

n Huawei n Honeywell n II-VI n IS

We have also secured financial support from funders including:




n Lightpoint


Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)

n European

Office of Aerospace Research & Development

n Engineering

and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

n Lumenisity

n European

n Merck

n Innovate

n Microsoft

n Royal

Academy of Engineering

n Royal


n NorthLab


n Northrop




n Oclaro n Phoenix


n PragmatIC


n QinetiQ n Rockley


n Salunda n Seagate


n Sestosensor n SPI


Connect If you are interested in learning more about the Future Photonics Hub, or finding out how we can work with you, please contact us: +44 (0)23 8059 9536 Follow us @PhotonicsHub 35 +44 (0)23 8059 9536 Follow us @PhotonicsHub

A future manufacturing research hub

The Future Photonics Hub Annual Report 2017  

Our 2017 Annual Report outlines the vision and purpose of The Future Photonics Hub, the progress made under each of our four Technologies Pl...

The Future Photonics Hub Annual Report 2017  

Our 2017 Annual Report outlines the vision and purpose of The Future Photonics Hub, the progress made under each of our four Technologies Pl...