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Road Map for European Photonics Available

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2008
Rebecca C. Jernigan

The Merging Optics & Nanotechnologies (MONA) project based in Grenoble, France, has published “A European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies,” a market report resulting from a two-year project funded by the European Commission to bridge the gap between photonics and nanotechnologies and to investigate ways in which each of the industries can benefit from advances in the other.

For example, the market for flat panel displays is forecast to reach $90 billion in 2009, and MONA predicts a strong effect on the market resulting from the development of carbon nanotubes for field emission displays and for LCD backlighting, with mass production beginning in 2011 and 2014, respectively. The lighting market is expected to be affected by the development of photonic crystals and zinc oxide nanowires for use in LEDs, with mass production beginning in 2010 and 2015, respectively.


This chart shows various time-line predictions for applications of nanotechnology in photonics.

The report states that the materials that will have the greatest effect on nanophotonics include plasmonic nanostructures and nanoparticles in glasses or polymers as well as the integration of electronics with photonics. Processes with the highest impact are expected to include UV lithography, colloidal synthesis, nanophosphor fabrication, and nanoimprinting and etching.

Available as a pdf from the project’s Web site, the document lists some of the ways that nanophotonics could benefit applications including photovoltaics, sensors, instrumentation and imaging. It also suggests the challenges that may result from using nanomaterials. It offers five- to 10-year road maps for various nanomaterials, equipment and processes as well as applications and related markets.

The report also includes a series of time lines highlighting the research and development, applications and mass production stages for devices in each category, including silicon lasers with erbium-doped silicon quantum dots or with silicon nanocrystals; microstructured fibers for long-haul transmission and domestic applications; gallium nitride-based white LEDs; and II-VI-based hybrid solar cells.

After presenting its data and explaining the methods used to gather the information, MONA makes several recommendations for the European photonics industry, focusing on the first steps that should be taken to ensure the development of the predicted technologies.

The main suggestion is that there should be an emphasis on joint research and development projects, with equipment manufacturers, process developers, research and development centers, universities and end users collaborating to create relevant, mass-producible technologies.

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