Vector Photonics awarded £280k grant for PCSEL work in datacoms

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Start-up, Vector Photonics has received a £280k grant from UK government to support project LOCAL, or to give it its full title, Lasers for Communications Applications.

The company - which spun-out from the University of Glasgow earlier this year - produces photonic crystal surface emitting laser (PCSEL) technology, under exclusive license, from the university, which is also a stakeholder. 

PCSELs emit light from their top surface, like VCSELs, which makes them easy to package and incorporate into PCBs and electronic assemblies. They are also produced in a similar way to edge-emitting lasers (EELs), which enables the company to draw on existing supply chain expertise and capacity.

The grant funding will validate the all-semiconductor laser technology for use in datacomms applications. It comes from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund, run in collaboration with the University of Glasgow.

Vector Photonics CEO, Neil Martin commented: ‘The government grant clearly demonstrates the strategic importance of our PCSEL technology to the UK and the world-wide photonics industry. Project LOCAL allows Vector Photonics to focus on cloud data centre applications - a huge growth market driven by the proliferation of mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT) and the 5G roll-out.’

Vector Photonics CEO, Neil Martin, said, “PCSELs are low cost, robust, have a broad wavelength range and high power. This combination of key characteristics gives them a huge advantage over most of the laser technologies used today. This includes VCSELs (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers), which are robust, but compromise wavelength range and power, and EEL’s (Edge Emitting Lasers), which have broad wavelength range, but are expensive to make and are fragile to handle.

While the project will validate PCSEL technology’s use in data-centre transceivers, the organisation believes that it is equally applicable to lidar, mobile consumer, biometric and sensing markets, where semiconductor lasers enable new functionality.

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