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  • Swiss Team Leads PLEAS Photonics Project
Jan 2007
NEUCHATEL, Switzerland, Jan. 11, 2006 -- A European consortium has started a €2.8 million project to bring plasmonics from the halls of academia to being a key element in the development of the European photonics industry.

The PLEAS (Plasmon Enhanced Photonics) project is being lead by CSEM SA (Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology), an applied research and development company based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The team also includes LED maker Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH and Sagem Défense Sécurité (Safran Group), a France-based European defense and security electronics company.

Ross Stanley, PLEAS project coordinator, said, "On one hand, the European research community is the world leader in almost every area of plasmon research. On the other hand, the huge potential of plasmons had not been supported adequately by the photonics industry. In this project, we have the top plasmon experts sitting around the same table as two major players from the European photonics industry, explaining their vision of how plasmonic can revolutionize photonics. Thanks to EU funding, we have a unique opportunity to implement this vision."

A plasmon is the name given to photons that are trapped at the surface of metals and localized on the nanoscale. By controlling these plasmons, light can be channeled through otherwise opaque metal films. By careful design, the light can be filtered spectrally, collected from across a large area and focused to tiny spots. Almost all photonic components from LEDs and image sensors are limited in their size and performance by the so-called diffraction limit. In principle, light cannot be channeled efficiently through spaces smaller than the diffraction limit.

"Plasmonics can overcome this and, in doing so, has the potential to revolutionize photonics," CMES said in a press release. It said PLEAS intends to achieve its goals through efforts to control light in metals at the nanoscale.

"It will have a strong impact on photodetectors used in applications ranging from portable phones to security, leading to cheaper more powerful cameras, and on greenhouse emissions by increasing energy efficiency of LEDs used in general and automotive lighting, in projection systems and in backlights for LCD displays. Europe is the world leader in plasmonic enhanced photonics. To maintain European competitiveness, it is crucial that the Sixth Framework program is financing two strategic research projects and one network of excellence on plasmonics."

The Sixth Framework (FP6) funds the European Research Area, a common EU science and technology program first proposed at the 2000 Lisbon European Council Summit. The Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7), approved by the Eu Council on Dec. 18, was started this month. The Council also adopted a regulation setting out rules for participation in FP7 by companies, research institutes and universities and on the dissemination of research results. The total budget for FP7 is €50.521 billion, and the program will run for seven years. An additional €2.7 billion has been earmarked for the Euratom nuclear research program, which will run for five years.

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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