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On Thursday 14 April, the Dutch government announced the projects approved for the National Growth Fund in 2022. In addition, NanoLabNL has been approved for the second tranche of the QuantumDeltaNL Dutch Growth Fund for maintaining and developing the Dutch national infrastructure in nanotechnology.

Of the projects awarded funding, NXTGEN HIGHTECH and PhotonDelta in particular make use of the many advantages offered by nanotechnology. NXTGEN HIGHTECH received €450 million and PhotonDelta €471 million. In addition to QuantumDeltaNL, these projects will benefit from the existing cleanroom infrastructure of NanoLabNL.

NXTGEN HIGH TECH

The NXTGEN HIGHTECH programme focuses on the development of a new generation of high-tech equipment. This programme will make an important contribution to the competitiveness, earning capacity and employment of the Netherlands. It will help address some of the larger societal challenges ahead (Health, Energy, Sustainability, etc.).

PhotonDelta

PhotonDelta is an international ecosystem of organisations in integrated photonics. PhotonDelta aims to develop photonic technology to address societal challenges such as sustainability, create a new European industry and open the door to a huge range of new applications, including quantum computing. Capital from the Dutch National Growth Fund and other organisations will be used to set up start-ups, scale up production, create new applications for photonic chips and develop infrastructure and talent.

Additional funds to maintain ecosystem

On the same day, additional funds in QuantumDeltaNL will be available for Nano4Society and MinacNed to deploy nanotechnology within the ecosystem to develop solutions for major societal transitions and create societal impact. The activities will contribute to MinacNed’s goal of strengthening the economy based on microsystems and nanotechnology.

22 July 2021 – QuiX Quantum reports the realization of the largest Universal Quantum Photonic Processor in a scientific paper published today.

In a scientific paper published in Materials for Quantum Technology today, QuiX Quantum demonstrates the world’s largest universal quantum photonic processor, which shows excellent performance for quantum information processing and computing applications. With this work, QuiX Quantum demonstrates the first commercially available, turn-key processor for photonic quantum computing.

The results reported in the paper highlight the unique expertise of QuiX Quantum in combining photonic and quantum systems engineering, and the market-readiness of the technological solution. QuiX’ expertise and technology can provide solutions for the entire spectrum of quantum applications.

Photonic processors are a crucial component for photonic quantum computing, which promise great impact in the fields of machine learning, quantum chemistry and cryptography. The universal quantum photonic processor reported in the paper is embedded in a plug-and-play control system operated by QuiX’ dedicated control software.

QuiX Quantum’s CTO Jelmer Renema says: “With this work we have demonstrated not only a leading position in the commercial landscape of photonics quantum computing, but also in the technological development of quantum photonic engineering.”

QuiX Quantum is a company based in Enschede, the Netherlands, that realizes quantum technology solutions based on the proprietary silicon nitride waveguide technology TriPleX that enables the realization of large-scale integrated photonic circuits with low loss. The maturity of the waveguide technology allows for achieving full reconfigurability and all-to-all connectivity of the elements of the photonic processor that can be thus defined as universal.

Photo credit: Daniël Verkijk

Source: Quix News

The Netherlands has a strong position in photonics. Taiwan also spends a lot research capacity on photonics. Taiwan is one of the markets where the Dutch photonics sector positions itself in a public-private context, both in terms of technological cooperation and business development. Taiwan has an excellent position in semiconductor production and, partly due to global climate developments, faces many societal challenges that photonic innovations can help solve. The Netherlands and Taiwan can benefit from each other’s strengths.

This call is open to academia from the photonics community in The Netherlands and Taiwan. It aims to give an impulse to photonics research in both economies to stimulate (new) collaborations between the two science communities, and to learn from each other’s approaches solving blocking issues for the future.

Eligible consortia are composed of researchers based in The Netherlands and in Taiwan, with active involvement in the project of a main applicant on both the Dutch and the Taiwanese side. The consortium must also include at least one industry partner on both sides.

The main applicants and consortia can apply for funds for a project with a maximum duration of five years. Each project consists of a Dutch work package and a Taiwanese work package. Per project, a maximum of k€ 750 can be requested from NWO for the Dutch work package, and a maximum of NT$ 3M per year can be requested from MOST for the Taiwanese work package.

The deadline to submit your full proposal is 9 November 2021, 14:00:00 CEST.

Read more and download the full call information on the NWO site.

Figure 1: Photonic biosensor chips with integrated light sources on printed circuit boards.

How to build a photonic biosensing diagnostics chip using vertical integration

This week, diagnostics company Surfix BV along with LioniX International and a consortium of Dutch partners announced an €8.5 investment for photonic biosensor development for covid-19 detection and early cancer diagnostics.

LioniX International play a key role in the partnership, which also includes Qurin Diagnostics BV, industry accelerator PhotonDelta and the East Netherlands Development Agency, Oost NL. Using vertically integrated expertise we have developed a technology platform that speaks to the pressing needs of the biosensing market.

But what exactly are those needs? And how does LioniX International’s approach to product development serve innovation in this cutting edge application? In this article we examine the drivers for biosensing innovation, the benefits of photonic biosensing and the unique mix of expertise LioniX International is contributing to its development.

The case for sensitive point of need testing 

Biosensors have the power to save lives through early and accurate diagnosis and effective treatment monitoring. Similarly, in veterinary, agriculture, feed and food production applications, biosensing can secure food safety and security, protect stocks and ensure animal welfare.

An effective test must provide accurate information and do so within a relevant timeframe or risk unacceptable consequences. On the other hand, testing speed is also paramount. In the diagnosis of sepsis – a leading cause of death in emergency wards – a delay of hours can severely increase the likelihood of death.

Meeting both the sensitivity and speed criteria with the same test is tricky. The most sensitive tests rely on central laboratories that can be far from the point of need. Moreover, tests that require specialist sample preparation increase turnaround time, rely on trained staff and introduce more possibilities for sample degradation.

Conversely, common point-of-need tests can lack the sensitivity and reliability required for certain applications. A greater issue is that they are fundamentally incapable of testing for a specific subset of biological markers. The technology for antibody or hormone-based lateral flow tests for example (such as the Covid-19 antibody test or home pregnancy test) will never be suitable for tests that look for specific DNA strands or for particularly low concentrations of biomolecules.

Photonic chip biosensing platforms promise not only sensitivity and speed but the flexibility to be configured to detect different analytes for applications from Covid-19 testing to water quality monitoring.

Biosensing basics

Biosensors detect particular biological compounds (or analytes) in a sample. To do this a biosensor combines two parts. The first, a biochemical component, is chosen for its ability to bind with the target analyte. The second is component that can detect and transmit information about the miniscule physical changes that result from this binding.

In photonic chip biosensing, the biochemical component is applied to the surface of a waveguide (think microscopic glass fibre fabricated on a chip) carrying a light signal. In this case, the binding of an analyte changes the way light travels through the waveguide, altering the light signal in way that can be read out by an instrument. Different components operate on different principles. Some detect changes in the absorption of light, others detect changes in the refractive index of the sensor material resulting from analyte binding.

A 100X increase in chip sensitivity for photonic biosensors 

In its collaboration with Surfix BV and Qurin Diagnostics LioniX International has developed the most sensitive chip-based photonic biosensing component that is up to 100 times more sensitive than the state of the art. The technology uses refractive index sensing based on a building block known as an asymmetric Mach Zehnder Interferometer (or aMZI).

The particular strength of such aMZIs building blocks for biosensing is that their sensitivity is partly a function of their dimensions. Therefore, with careful photonic engineering, LioniX International have maximised the component sensitivity in a way is not possible with other chip-based components.

Figure 3 (left): Close up of biochip surface showing the coiled waveguides individual aMZIs transducers. Figure 4 (right): The functionalised surface of the aMZI transducer with biorecognition agents applied on the waveguide surface. Image courtesy of Surfix BV.

Multiplexing is easy with photonic biosensors

The ease with which photonic transducers can be duplicated as sensor building blocks makes them particularly suited for an important biosensing technique called multiplexing. Multiplexing makes for more powerful diagnostic or prognostic testing by simultaneously targeting more than one specific analyte in a sample.

In a multiplexed photonic chip biosensor, any number of generic transducers can be functionalized with a different biochemical compounds, with no fundamental limitation to the compounds that can be used.

From design to device

To develop a technology platform that meets the very specific needs of the biosensing market, LioniX International have drawn on broad expertise from beyond photonics. This has required two approaches to knowledge integration: vertical integration of internal capabilities and horizontal integration of specialist partner expertise.

Vertical integration is the lifeblood of our development process. For the photonic biosensing platform developed for Surfix, we combined expertise in photonics with electronics, fluidics and instrument design. This approach enabled us to develop modules that help Surfix directly address market needs – usability, test reliability robustness and volume manufacturability. Vitally for a commercial product, this approach also ensures that modules are built with a view to volume scalability.

Our partnership with Surfix and Qurin also brought external expertise, vital for two reasons. Firstly, innovation at the forefront of a field relies on access to highly specialised knowledge. The expertise and intellectual property required from different domains like biochemistry, nanotechnology and photonics would be very nearly impossible for a single company to accumulate on its own.

Secondly, close collaboration is vital if LioniX International is to continually develop its understanding of how core capabilities can be applied to new challenges. For example, in collaborating on biochemical surface coatings for photonic chip biosensors, we have come to understand the parameters that limit this technology. By doing so we have been able to develop complimentary electronics fluidics, sample preparation and instrumentation solutions that would have not been possible otherwise. This not only benefits our biosensing partnership, but adds to the body of expertise we can rely on to support other customers bringing technology to market.

R&D for effective product development

To offer value to customers through vertically integrated product development, we need to ensure we can bring serious expertise to the table. The source of this expertise lies not only in product development experience, but also in our own research and development projects.

One such recent project, the EU-funded BioCDX, provided foundational knowledge for photonic biosensor cartridge development. In addition to novel photonic aspects of the sensor, the cartridge design included integrated fluidic syringes for liquid handling and sample preparation and integrated low-cost light sources on the biosensor chip for easy interfacing with a desktop reader.

Figure 5: A low cost injection moulded cartridge (left) with aMZI biosensor chip. The cartridge features integrated microfluidic interfaces (mechanical syringes), blood sample preparation and light source integrated on the biosensor chip. These features make for simple interfacing with a desktop reader instrument (right). Images courtesy of CSEM/BioCDX.

Summary

Integrated photonics is playing a vital role in exciting developments in biosensing. The combination of sensitivity, testing speed and compatibility with a range of target molecules make photonic biosensors attractive in a wide range of medical and non-medical applications.

Despite pressing needs and compelling applications, the use case for biosensors is complex. To develop a cost-effective solution that can outperform existing technology, LioniX International have had to capture expertise that has both high degrees of breadth and specialism. Both are a core aspect of how we do business.

Vertical integration provides the means to develop not just photonic chips, but whole technology solutions. These solutions come in the form of assembled modules incorporating photonics, fluidics and electronics.

Whilst vertical integration leverages internal expertise, partnerships drive the necessary understanding of application required to co-develop cutting edge products.

Whether in biosensing or beyond, this approach to innovation and product development has proven impact. Through vertical integration from design to device, LioniX International is bringing the power of integrated photonics to a range of demanding applications.

References

Chatzipetrou, M.; Gounaridis, L.; Tsekenis, G.; Dimadi, M.; Vestering-Stenger, R.; F. Schreuder, E.; Trilling, A.; Besselink, G.; Scheres, L.; van der Meer, A.; Lindhout, E.; G. Heideman, R.; Leeuwis, H.; Graf, S.; Volden, T.; Ningler, M.; Kouloumentas, C.; Strehle, C.; Revol, V.; Klinakis, A.; Avramopoulos, H.; Zergioti, I. A Miniature Bio-Photonics Companion Diagnostics Platform for Reliable Cancer Treatment Monitoring in Blood Fluids. Sensors2021, 21, 2230. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21062230

Source: Lionix International news

The Enschede-based quantum photonics company QuiX has sold its first quantum photonic processor to Qontrol. This quantum technology company from the UK makes control electronics and supporting infrastructure for complex, massively multichannel photonic integrated circuits (PICs). Their applications can be found mainly in research laboratories worldwide.

QuiX, located at Kennispark Twente and cooperation partner of the ANP cluster for Applied Nanotechnology at the University of Twente, confirms with this sale that it is a leader in the world of light technology. With this photonics technology, they are making an important contribution to the development of the first quantum computers. These do not yet exist, but their introduction is coming ever closer. These computers are going to change the world radically, is the prediction. Just think of personalised medication. With quantum computing, it is possible to calculate exactly what the composition and quantity of a medicine should be for an individual. However, the fields of application are much broader. The technology can be used in sectors such as MedTech, the chip industry and agriculture. What is the best time to sow (precision agriculture), can you ‘smell’ cancer through your breath and therefore detect it earlier, and when does an aircraft need specific maintenance? The trick is to calculate exactly what the right moment is, with the help of a computer that can make unprecedented calculations.

Photonic processors from QuiX

QuiX develops quantum photonic processors for quantum information processing and simulation. Using the proprietary TriPleX platform, QuiX provides unique quantum photonic processors that are not only large-scale and fully reconfigurable but also low loss and widely transparent to all suitable quantum light sources. QuiX demonstrated the world’s largest quantum photonic processor in a product launch last December, which can be found here:

 

QONTROL as first customer

Qontrol, based in Bristol (UK), makes control electronics and supporting infrastructure for complex, massively multi-channel photonic integrated circuits (PICs). These PICs are now finding uses from telecommunications to fundamental science, and Qontrol’s products can be found powering them, in research labs worldwide.

Jelmer Renema, CTO of QuiX: “This is great news for QuiX. Qontrol is one of the leading quantum photonics technologies companies in Europe. This shows how QuiX can meet the most stringent technological requirements for quantum photonics.”

“We are thrilled and honoured to be the first to be able to kick the tires on QuiX’s awesome new line of photonic processors,” said Dr Josh Silverstone, Qontrol’s CTO. “With this device in our Bristol labs, we will be able to better understand and serve our customer’s needs, and particularly those customers wanting to put QuiX’s technology to use. It will be a fantastic tool for us to demonstrate what our own products can do, too, with the device’s visible-light capability promising to make for fabulous live demos.”

Events

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) and MOST (Taiwan) will organise a webinar and an online matchmaking event regarding the international call ‘Consortia in Photonics (Taiwan)’ on 9 June and 23 June.

The webinar will provide general information about the call. This will take place on Wednesday 9 June 10.00-11.30 hrs (Netherlands’ time) – 16.00-17.30 hrs (Taiwan time). On Wednesday 23 June the matchmaking event will take place at 10.00-11.30 hrs CEST and 16.00-17.30 hrs TST. These online events can be followed separately and will be hosted in a Webex environment.

Webinar general information

During the webinar general information regarding the call will be shared such as the scope of the call, criteria and specific requirements on the Taiwanese and Dutch side. Expert speakers from both countries will outline the respective landscape in photonics research: Professor Andrea Fiore (Netherlands, Eindhoven University of Technology) and Professor San-Liang Lee (Taiwan). Furthermore, researchers from Dutch universities and research institutes, and researchers from Taiwan will have the opportunity to ask questions.  It is not mandatory to join the webinar before submitting a proposal.
Date: Wednesday 9 June 2021
Time: 10.00-11.30 hrs CEST – 16.00-17.30 hrs TST

Online matchmaking event

The matchmaking event will provide researchers from Taiwan and The Netherlands opportunities to network with potential partners by teaming up for joint research topics. Attendees will receive background information and in-depth questions will be addressed. It is not mandatory to join this online matchmaking event before submitting a proposal.
Date: Wednesday 23 June 2021
Time: 10.00-11.30 hrs CEST – 16.00-17.30 hrs TST

The deadline for submitting a joint research proposal is 9 November 2021. For more information, please see the call for proposals Consortia in Photonics (Taiwan).

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) and MOST (Taiwan) will organise a webinar and an online matchmaking event regarding the international call ‘Consortia in Photonics (Taiwan)’ on 9 June and 23 June.

The webinar will provide general information about the call. This will take place on Wednesday 9 June 10.00-11.30 hrs (Netherlands’ time) – 16.00-17.30 hrs (Taiwan time). On Wednesday 23 June the matchmaking event will take place at 10.00-11.30 hrs CEST and 16.00-17.30 hrs TST. These online events can be followed separately and will be hosted in a Webex environment.

Webinar general information

During the webinar general information regarding the call will be shared such as the scope of the call, criteria and specific requirements on the Taiwanese and Dutch side. Expert speakers from both countries will outline the respective landscape in photonics research: Professor Andrea Fiore (Netherlands, Eindhoven University of Technology) and Professor San-Liang Lee (Taiwan). Furthermore, researchers from Dutch universities and research institutes, and researchers from Taiwan will have the opportunity to ask questions.  It is not mandatory to join the webinar before submitting a proposal.
Date: Wednesday 9 June 2021
Time: 10.00-11.30 hrs CEST – 16.00-17.30 hrs TST

Online matchmaking event

The matchmaking event will provide researchers from Taiwan and The Netherlands opportunities to network with potential partners by teaming up for joint research topics. Attendees will receive background information and in-depth questions will be addressed. It is not mandatory to join this online matchmaking event before submitting a proposal.
Date: Wednesday 23 June 2021
Time: 10.00-11.30 hrs CEST – 16.00-17.30 hrs TST

The deadline for submitting a joint research proposal is 9 November 2021. For more information, please see the call for proposals Consortia in Photonics (Taiwan).