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NEWTON — Result In Brief

Project ID: 17160
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Germany

Enlightening nanophotonics

An EU-funded project delivered new material and process technologies for capitalising on the potential of photonic crystals. Experimental results demonstrated the feasibility of developing 3D photonic devices for industrial production.
Enlightening nanophotonics
Photonic crystals and photonic band gaps (PBGs) comprise a new class of optical devices for processing light and guiding the direction of wavelengths. The development of real 3D photonic crystals (PhCs) with defined defects has the potential to advance applications in many areas where the workings of conventional optics limit further progress. In PBG devices, the interaction of light is based on 'optical band gaps' in crystals rather than directed by electronic band gaps in semiconductor materials. A switch to photonic band gaps in optical systems makes possible new applications for processing light, building up existing optical functions on much smaller dimensions, and achieving higher integration density.

The 'Enabling technologies for 3D nano photonics: New materials and process technology for real 3D integrated optical circuits, photonic band gap devices and photonic crystals' (Newton) project met most of its objectives with delivery of a number of new technologies. These can be applied in the area of 3D PBG photonics and lighting; they exhibited high potential for application in the fields of consumer electronics, sensors, sub-wavelength imaging, textiles and food.

In particular, Newton researchers produced technology for realising precision-controlled polystyrene spheres, the self-organisation process of which was also successfully developed. This latter success is important for the production of large-area opal templates. The process for inscribing 3D defects on these templates by two-photon polymerisation (2PP) was also developed. Team members also delivered software for simulation of 3D PBG devices developed on a multiplatform basis. This promises much improved computing time and an enhanced graphic user interface.

Project outcomes succeeded in demonstrating the feasibility of developing 3D PBG components and photonic devices. Newton partners also proved that combined 3D PhC templates and 3D defect inscribing is a viable technology for future industrial production.

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