On June 21, the list of the applications receiving grants for centres of excellence from the Swedish Research Council was made public. The total grant amount for 2024–2028 is more than 434 million SEK and out of the 124 proposals submitted from Swedish universities, 15 grants were finally granted. One of the proposals ending up on the final list is “Centre for integrated meta photonics” which is now receiving close to 28 million SEK from the Swedish Research Council to start up a center of excellence in nanotechnology and the physics of condensed matter.
And to Victor Torres Company, principal applicant for the centre and Professor of photonics at MC2, the good news came as a pleasant surprise.
“This was a great surprise, honestly. I’m sure that what they mention at VR is accurate, namely that the reviewers were astonished about the high quality of the proposals overall,” he says.
Wants to develop new ways of building components
The establishment of the center of excellence aims to establish an internationally leading environment for both research and training of PhDs in "integrated meta-photonics".
“We will focus on new ways to design photonic components and systems to surpass performance limits that today are believed to be fundamental. These will be useful in a range of applications, from optical connections in data centers to quantum simulations,” says Victor Torres.
A major challenge in the field involves developing suitable methods for building these components, as conventional methods in the field are limited in functionality.
“In our centre, we will build long-term competence in the area. Partly within heterogeneous integration where we can use so-called "microtransfer printing technology", which enables bringing together different materials and components with complementary functions in the same chip. In addition to that, we can also use so-called "inverse design", which means that we use artificial intelligence to come up with new designs for components, which is not possible with conventional techniques. The results of this will mean new components with better performance, higher energy efficiency, lower cost, and functions that were previously not possible in a single chip,” says Victor.
An interdisciplinary approach to integrated photonics
The purpose of the grant is to support the build-up and development of environments that promote research collaboration on a joint theme and contribute to higher education. The call is open for applications relating to pioneering and multi-disciplinary issues in all scientific disciplines.
“This operational infrastructure comes with many possibilities and is a very interdisciplinary investment with strong scientific and technical potential. Integrated photonics is coming of age, making a strong impact in established industrial settings and creating new opportunities in science. There are similar movements in Europe, with strong hubs in other European countries and with strong connections to the ChipsAct. I look very much forward to leading an inclusive center and fostering new scientific endeavors in collaboration with the other PIs of the project; Philippe Tassin, Raphaël Van Laer and Peter Andrekson and the relevant areas of Advance at Chalmers,” says Victor Torres Company.