About photonics

The science of photonics

In the world class laboratory facilities of DTU Fotonik, the research encompasses a broad spectrum of today’s photonics research, ranging from nanotechnology at one end to complicated network architecture at the other.

What is Photonics

The science of photonics includes the generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, detection and sensing of light. The term photonics basically covers all technical applications of light over the whole spectrum from ultraviolet over the visible to the near-, mid- and far-infrared. The term photonics developed as an outgrowth of the first practical semiconductor light emitters invented in the early 1960s and optical fibers developed in the 1970s.

Today at DTU Fotonik, we deal with the design, fabrication and characterization of new types of optical devices based on the newest developments in nanotechnology, such as sensors, lasers, LEDs, photovoltaic elements and devices for all-optical signal processing. Novel structures for applications in future quantum information technologies are also being explored. We investigate and demonstrate new techniques for ultra-high speed optical transmission systems and networks for distributing high-speed data to end-users. We optimize network layout and administration, and develop efficient data compression codes that enhance the quality and minimize the resources needed

We are the Light Department

In one way or another, photons (light) enter into every aspect of the work that takes place at DTU Fotonik. We are working with all the ways in which light can be used, affected, manipulated, and controlled. 

Technologies based on photonics can replace many of the more resource demanding technologies. Our passion for photonics leads to many exciting and valuable technological developments. 

Light can measure, sense, and identify materials without touching them. The Terahertz Camera detects faults in the insulation of rocket ships before it is too late. It also detects and identifies potentially explosive liquids in the baggage of travellers.

In the health sector, light is replacing and improving current diagnostics and treatment methods. The optical methods are typically non-invasive and more energy efficient than current methods.

Within these areas, scientists envision such future advances as the biowatch which senses the status of your health, the optical contact lens which does the same in a different way, and the Sickbay – the bed, that monitors the development of your state of health, when you are ill. 

Light can measure ultrafast phenomena and can be exploited for ultrafast photonic chips. By exploiting the nanotecnologies of photonic crystals and quantum dots, photons can be guided around on an ultracompact chip and be used for implementing signal processing at speeds far exceeding electronics. 

Light can be the basis for future quantum information technology. By exploiting the quantum mechanical nature of the interaction between photons and electrons in quantum dots, novel devices can be realized, such as a light source generating a single photon at a time. Such a source can be exploited for secure communication links. 

Light can measure the environment and make the most of it. The productivity of wind mills can be significantly enhanced if the speed, quality, and direction of the wind are known before it reaches the wind mill. This allows the wind mill to be set for maximum exploitation of the wind’s energy. 

Light can nurture growth very specifically. Diode lamps in certain colors can be used to control the growth of plants according to specific needs. Targeted control saves energy. 

Light can transport data. The primary transmission technology for communication networks, such as the internet, is based on optical fibers which can transmit unknown masses of data compared to other media. When routers and switches all become optically based, energy usage and capacity needs will be significantly reduced. 

Within this area, scientists envision a future with all imaginable communication lines functioning efficiently at top speeds at a fraction of the costs to the environment.

Taking this technology to the third world may eventually help bring about world wide equality in living standards as well as opportunities. 

Light entertains. But before you can be entertained, there is coding and visual technology research. This research is also used in Space technology.

Within this area, scientists envision 3D home theaters with free-view. Each individual viewer can choose his/her own view of the show. 

And then there is lighting. At DTU Fotonik, the researchers are working on developing better, cheaper, and more energy efficient lighting. The technology is called LED. It is based on diodes and lasers.

Within this area, scientists envision the ultimate intelligent lighting systems which “know” us or their environment and adjust themselves accordingly, using very little energy.


This is a book about optics and photonics today and in the future.

Read about the research, the findings, and read what the scientist imagine might be the future result of their work today.

The book includes sections in which scientists talk about their passion for photonics.

Optical Horizons Film

In collaboration with DTU and the Danish Post- & Telemuseum - DTU Fotonik financed a film about light and communication. Now, in the past and in the future. You can watch the film in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Danish.

Children of Galileo

A project to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first telescope.

Children all over Denmark were given the chance to build their own telescope.