Future Horizons and Focus for Photonics Research

Posted Sep 18, 2020 by Photonics Leadership Group

The Photonics Leadership Group and the All-Party Parliamentary Group in Photonics and Quantum, have jointly released a ground breaking horizon scanning report on the future of photonics research by 2030. The PLG brought together 26 of the UK’s leading photonics researchers from 20 different institutions to ask “what will be the focus of photonics research a decade and more from now?” 70 research topics were identified that will be the focus of future photonics research spanning materials, optical phenomenon, manufacturing processes, devices and systems.  Identified highlights include significant developments in existing areas of research, such as integrated photonics, and new areas such as biodegradable photonics.

Recognising all R&D takes place in an ever-developing socio-economic environment, the report also identifies 9 major challenges that photonics will have a key role in addressing. Ranging from future mobility, healthy-aging and real-time secure communications to responsive manufacturing, food production and defence; it is clear that photonics not only already makes a major contribution to society, but will be absolutely instrumental in addressing the challenges of the future. The report makes 7 clear recommendations to translate the identified topics into funded research balanced across all domains. The recommendations also call on those working in vertical markets to integrate this future vision into their technology roadmaps to ensure the very best and most advance photonics is rapidly pulled through into applications for the benefit of all.

Described by some of the UK’s leading photonics researchers as “an excellent and timely report” capturing how much “it is an exciting time for the field”, it is hoped the highlighted topics stimulate discussion on the future directions for photonics as well as inspire the next generation of researchers. According to John Lincoln, Chief Executive of the PLG, it has been an incredible cathartic and inspirational exercise to take a break from all of current challenges and look to the future and consider the huge diversity of photonics still to be discovered. John believes they are privileged to work in a field, whose technologies already underpin much of what is taken for granted on a day-to-day basis from the internet to high-speed manufacturing, yet this exercise has shown the age of the photon is only just beginning.

The PLG’s latest survey on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry is now open. Industry and academia are encouraged to submit response by 25 September to update understanding of the current and future impact of the pandemic.

Click here to read/download the full report, Future Horizons for Photonics Research 2030 and Beyond.