Photonics technologies are ubiquitous. Earmarked by the European Commission as a Key Enabling Technology for the 21st Century, photonics equipment is used across quantum computing applications, agricultural technologies, Internet of Things devices, self-driving cars, and healthcare tech, amongst many others.
Europe has had a distinguished history in scientific and technical research with regards to the potential of light as a source of technological development. But where does it stand today? How does the continent’s SME landscape make the most of photonics research and funding? How does Europe compare with other global players in the market? What are some of the success stories of photonics projects in Europe?
In this five-part special report, EURACTIV digs deeper to answer some of the above questions as a means of charting Europe’s future in the field of photonics tech and finding out how light continues to be a valuable source of digital development.
Europe has a long and rich history of harnessing the power of light to extend the technical and practical capacities of the human species. The modern day utilisation of light for such means takes its form in the technology of photonics, and today, Europe's clout in the arena is formidable.
For Giovanni Badiali, it is a day like any other. Adorned in the standard surgical attire, he enters the operating room and prepares his medial implements with the patient lying flat before him.
Europe's well-established intellectual and scientific history in developing optical technologies has brought the continent to its current position as the second-highest global manufacturer of photonics equipment. With rapid development over recent years, the technology could help the EU to attain its political goal of technological sovereignty.
Photonics have been defined as a vital technology in Europe's future digital transformation as well as helping the bloc achieve broader sustainability goals and strategic autonomy. However, there remains a deficit in public awareness on the technology. EURACTIV caught up with DG Connect's Lucilla Sioli to find out what photonics can do for Europe's digital sector and beyond.
The photonics industry is an emerging but already consolidating market, with more than 100 acquisitions per year. But does Europe lack a financial market for the technology? EPIC's Carlos Lee explores.