Photonics for health and sustainability

DTU fotonik

Photonics for health and sustainability

Photonics engineering is the term for the technology based on light and has become a key enabling technology for our society. It is used, for example, both in the healthcare sector for the treatment of diseases, development of more sustainable energy systems and of a faster greener and secure internet.

More than a hundred years ago, scientists discovered that light behaves like a wave as well as a particle. Einstein referred to particles of light as light quanta. Later on, they were renamed ‘photons’, and today photonics engineering is the term used for light-based technology.

At DTU Fotonik our research seeks to understand the nature of light and all the ways in which we can control and use light. The applications are manifold. The laser, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, forms the basis of our modern communications technology. The large amounts of data exchanged via the internet are transmitted from numerous lasers through optical fibre cables in the shape of tiny flashes travelling at the speed of light.

In other words, photonics engineering has become a key enabling technology of vital importance to our society. We are constantly discovering new applications, such as using light sources to identify chemicals in food products. Increasingly, light is also used in the health sector to examine and treat various eye diseases and types of cancer and, by combining photonics engineering with quantum technology and nanotechnology, we are trying to develop components for ultrafast quantum computers as well as secure online communication.

The development of LED technology is also essential. LED technology is used in the displays of our smartphones, tablets and in car lights, and the new LED bulbs provide better, cheaper and more energy-efficient lighting in our cities and homes.

Our laboratories are world-class, and internationally we are at the top. That makes our Master graduates desirable to employers.

At DTU Fotonik we aim to offer education, research and innovation of the highest standard, and our focus on application-oriented research enables us to work across many engineering disciplines and research areas, such as IT and the medical and health sciences. We have a close collaboration with researchers from all over the world, just as we collaborate with industry and public authorities about the dissemination of solutions based on photonics engineering as their key enabling technology.

The atmosphere in the Department is informal, and our physical surroundings ensure that students and researchers can work in close proximity. This promotes knowledge sharing and an exchange of ideas that may spark new research and more start-up companies. We work closely together with our students, regardless of their passion being basic or applied research, as new breakthroughs in both discoveries and applications are needed.

Research in photonics engineering will determine the future. We are on the threshold of a new industrial revolution where machines will communicate with each other as well as with people in a world where, already now, 10 percent of the global electricity consumption is used for digital communication. Consequently, new breakthroughs are required in order to solve challenges like increasing the internet capacity worldwide and, at the same time, reducing the accompanying energy consumption.