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DCU, Tyndall Spinout Attracts Investment

Photonics.com
Apr 2012
DUBLIN, April 9, 2012 — Pilot Photonics Ltd., a spinout company of Dublin City University and the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, has raised €300,000 (about $392,000) from Enterprise Ireland and AIB Seed Capital Fund to tackle the Internet capacity crunch.

The investment will allow company directors Dr. Philip Perry and Dr. Frank Smyth to find a route to market for their optical networking technology, which has the potential to dramatically increase the speed of the Internet.

Enterprise Ireland’s commercialization funding allowed the technology inventors to bring commercially relevant aspects of their work to a spinout-ready state. The subsequent seed investment now makes it possible for Pilot Photonics to commercially exploit the technology.

The company is developing technology that allows more information to be packed into existing optical fibers by bonding together several data channels on the fiber, reducing wasted bandwidth. Its first product, which enables the so-called “superchannels,” is an optical wavelength comb source. Additional technologies to reduce cost and power consumption are under development.

“One of the best-kept secrets is that the accessible bandwidth of the optical fiber that makes up the core of the Internet is almost full — there’s very little space capacity in there,” said Perry, CEO of Pilot Photonics. “Using our technology, you can get more data down existing fiber optic cables rather than having to dig up roads to lay new fiber.”

The need for faster, more efficient optical fiber links will continue to grow, particularly as end users of the Internet move to cloud computing and video-intensive applications.

“You will have a server, say, in Germany, that has to communicate with some other server that is in London, so you need very high capacity, low-delay connection,” Perry said. “We breathe new life into their systems so that network operators will be able to get more value out of their existing investment.”

The spinout launched its first comb source product, which produces multiple wavelengths from a single laser, in March at the OFC/NFOEC trade show in Los Angeles.

“If the channels all come from the same source, you can pack them tighter together,” Perry said. “By carefully selecting the number of channels and their speed, we can significantly reduce cost and the power consumption for network operators. For the end user of the Internet, it means a faster, higher-quality link through the Internet.”

The new technology is compatible with the existing optical fibers that currently connect countries and continents around the world, according to Perry, and Pilot Photonics now is working with equipment vendors as they develop new approaches to better Internet connections over the next decade.

“The response we got in LA this month is fantastic,” Perry said. “We have the right technology at the right time, and we have started to engage with key global players.”

For more information, visit: www.dcu.ie  


GLOSSARY
photonics
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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