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Loughborough University launches Emergent Photonics Research Centre

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The new facility is focused on advancing photonics science and creating innovative technologies, with research projects including microcombs for navigation devices and the use of photonic systems as deep-learning networks

Loughborough University has launched a new research centre dedicated to photonics science and technology. The university describes the Emergent Photonics Research Centre as a new, 600-square-metre, state-of-the-art facility home to a team of researchers focused on advancing ultra-fast nonlinear optics, complexity, and photonics knowledge, and creating innovative technologies with applications ranging from quantum physics to biology.

According to Loughborough University, the centre's research agenda includes developing photonic technologies, such as micro-lasers known as microcombs, to create new, highly accurate, portable devices for positioning, timing, and navigation. These devices are intended to operate independently of GPS infrastructure, and to enable satellites and spacecraft to pinpoint their positions in space and be used to create machines capable of navigating within buildings or under the sea.

Other research projects the centre is pursuing include developing a terahertz wave camera capable of imaging microscopic items hidden inside 3D objects, the use of artificial intelligence to enhance control of photonic systems, and the use of these systems as fast and efficient deep-learning networks, a type of artificial intelligence modelled after the human brain’s structure.

Marco Peccianti, a professor at Loughborough University and director of the new centre, said: “The Emergent Photonics Research Centre has a singular vision: to harness the transformative power of photonic complexity to explore and manipulate natural phenomena, creating groundbreaking technologies in the process.

“As we open our doors, we are not just launching a centre; we are inviting the global scientific community to join us at the frontier of discovery. We aim to become an incubator for innovation, where scholars, industry experts, and institutions from around the world can collaborate on pioneering research that bridges the gaps between disparate scientific domains.”

Nick Jennings, vice chancellor and president of Loughborough University, said: “We are immensely proud and excited to launch the Emergent Photonics Research Centre, representing a significant advancement in the innovative work being done in the field of photonics in the UK.

“The centre’s research will deepen our understanding of nature's complexities and drive the development of groundbreaking technologies with far-reaching impacts across multiple fields. This investment underscores Loughborough University's commitment to world-leading fundamental research.”

Claudia Eberlein, dean of the School of Science at the university, added: “Photonics plays a key role in both cutting-edge fundamental research as well as modern innovations in 21st century technology.

“Loughborough has made a major investment in establishing this very large and highly sophisticated centre in order to be at the forefront of these developments. Projects that have already started range from fundamental metrology to advances in communications technology and novel pathways of investigating living organisms. I am absolutely certain we will see a lot of groundbreaking research and creative innovations emerging from the centre in the near future.”

Image credit: Loughborough University

Loughborough University launches Emergent Photonics Research Centre
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