Peter Seitz studied physics and did his Master in solid-state/semiconductor physics at ETH Zurich. His Ph.D. thesis at ETH was on 2D and 3D X-ray imaging and computed tomography. He subsequently worked for RCA, General Electric, the Paul Scherrer Institute, CSEM, ETH, EPFL and the University of Neuchatel. Today, Peter Seitz is Senior Technologist at Hamamatsu Photonics Europe, he is Adjunct Professor of optoelectronics at EPFL and he is a startup coach at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab of ETH. He is also active as a member of the Executive Committees of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW and of the European Technology Platform Photonics21. Peter Seitz has authored and co-authored about 200 publications in the fields of applied optics, semiconductor image sensing, machine vision, optical metrology and in the MedTech domain. He holds more than 60 patents, and he has won 25 national and international awards together with his teams.
Presentation: Photonics21 – A shining European Technology Platform
Europe invests heavily into its R&D: The new seven-year framework program ‘Horizon Europe’ (2021-2027), will have a budget of about €100 billion. In order to make the most appropriate choices in the areas of funding, the European Commission (EC) solicits the advice from as many stakeholders in each area as possible. The instrument for obtaining this information are the currently 38 European Technology Platforms (ETP), bringing together a large number of European companies, research organizations and academic institutions. The task of each ETP is to collect and to concentrate the inputs from all its stakeholders, and to present a coherent, compelling R&D program to the EC, supported by solid numbers of the importance of the proposed actions and reliable predictions on its economic and societal impact.
In a report commissioned by the EC in 2011, seven Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) for Europe were identified: Micro- and Nanoelectronics, Photonics, Industrial Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials and Advanced Manufacturing. In terms of economic importance, Photonics is the most significant of these seven European KETs.
The ETP Photonics21 is the organisation representing the interest of the highly relevant European photonics industry and research institutes in the field of photonics. With its 3300 members, Photonics21 is uniting the majority of the leading photonics industries and relevant R&D stakeholders along the whole economic value chain throughout Europe. Photonics21 is currently organized in 7 working groups, covering the most important photonic topics for Europe: Information and Communication, Industrial Manufacturing and Quality, Life Sciences and Health, Emerging Lighting/Electronics/Displays, Sensors/Security/Metrology, Optical Components and Systems, as well as Research/Education/Training.
In a practical example, it is demonstrated how well the technological and market predictions of the Photonics21 stakeholders (provided in the form of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda), match the actual developments and accomplishments observed seven years later.
In order to be more significant and cost-effective, the European R&D program Horizon Europe will improve on the previous framework programs. A mission-oriented, impact-focussed approach to address global challenges is demanded. As a consequence, Photonics21’s most recent vision document “Europe’s Age of Light” planned for eight missions in areas with highest societal demand and largest economic impact: Live longer – feel better, Feed the world, Keep our traffic flowing, Zero emission – less waste, Empowering Industry 4.0, A new quality of urban life, Building our digital society (with a secure and resilient IT infrastructure), Linking big ideas.
The EC has obligated the ETPs and the sustained PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships) to streamline and optimize their structure with the aim of becoming more application-oriented and more impactful. Photonics21 is currently planning such a re-structuring with the double aim of retaining the proven strength and involvement of its stakeholders, as well as stressing the application domains and the societal impact of the workgroups and their elaborated recommendations.
|Presentation: Novel imaging techniques for diagnostics and non-destructive testing |
The importance of image sensing and imaging techniques has risen dramatically in the past decade. As an example, consider the recent forecast that in 2019 more than 6 billion image sensors will be sold and integrated into systems with imaging capabilities. As a consequence, Hamamatsu is making great efforts to develop novel image sensing devices and imaging techniques, to meet the increasing image-generation requirements of our customers. Of particular importance are the medical and the professional NDT (non-destructive testing) markets, where the expectations regarding performance, reliability and image quality are particularly high. Examples of such novel products, currently under development for forthcoming market introduction, include the following:
Low-dose X-ray imaging, capable of reducing the patient’s X-ray dose by a factor of ten, is made possible through replacing today’s scintillation-based X-ray detection by direct conversion with suitable semiconductors.
Hamamatsu’s continuing efforts in miniaturizing both X-ray sources and detector electronics has led to novel portable equipment for portable X-ray analysis. A good example is the new generation of XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) micro-spectrometer systems for high-quality environmental analysis and non-contact material characterization in the field.
A similar trend in spectrometer miniaturization for ultra-portable spectroscopic analysis products is also achieved with Hamamatsu’s novel optoelectronic components for Raman micro-spectroscopy: Micro-Raman modules, detector sensitivity improvements and special SERS substrates (Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy) make it possible today to build very sensitive and highly selective Raman analysis instruments with the form factor of smartphones.
A modular approach has also enabled a breakthrough in affordable confocal microscopy: By attaching up to four such modules to the side-port of any suitable, commercially available microscope model, it has become possible to convert such a microscope into a quasi-simultaneous multi-wavelength confocal fluorescence microscopy instrument, which is an extremely powerful tool in the life sciences.
The infrared wavelength range from 2 to 12 micrometres is also called “diagnostic spectral range” because of the high specificity of the “spectral fingerprints” that can be acquired rapidly in a non-contact way. Hamamatsu’s new DFB Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) are extremely valuable components for the realization of miniaturized high-precision gas-sensing equipment. QCLs are of particular interest for this application, because the emission wavelength can be swept electronically over a significant spectral range. Both CW as well as pulsed QCL products in the wavelength range 4.3-10 microns are becoming available shortly.
Instead of sweeping the wavelength of a laser diode as in QCLs, it is possible to implement even smaller and more affordable MIR (mid-infrared) spectroscopy solutions by combining a broad-band MIR light source and a corresponding micro-spectrometer module. Hamamatsu’s micro-FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra-Red) module consists of a single, highly integrated MOEMS component (Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical System) for the realization of ultra-compact FTIR spectrometer products, perfectly fitting also into a smart phone.
Presentation: Large-area display technologies
Our digital society has an insatiable appetite for data – and after processing, these need to be displayed in suitable form for human beings. Today’s ubiquitous display solution consists of a large-area array of color LEDs (red-green-blue), which are found everywhere from digital watches over smartphones to TV sets and electronic billboards. However, video projectors (“beamers”) based on miniature DMD (Digital Mirror Device) or LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) devices are good examples for the creation of large imagery with small-scale, affordable systems. Hamamatsu is actively developing such cost-effective large-area display solutions, making use of several different technological approaches:
Lasers are becoming easier to produce and to package if they are manufactured wafer-scale and their emission is perpendicular to the wafer surface. Such VCSELs (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers) are found in a large number of products these days. Hamamatsu has optimized the manufacturing of these VCSELs, such that it becomes also possible to fabricate VCSEL arrays. In this way, the output power of the emitted laser light can be increased by large factors, simply by increasing the area covered by the VCSEL array.
For the generation of images it is necessary that corresponding wave-fronts are generated, as pointed out by Nobel-prize-winner Dennis Gabor. His famous technique of holography, previously implemented with photographic emulsions, can profit substantially from novel digital technologies. A so-called Computer-Generated Hologram (CGH) is a simple yet versatile approach to generate large-area imagery with a miniature device: Just a millimetre-size projection system consisting of a laser diode and a phase-modifying CGH platelet are required.
While conventional CGH projectors are static, Hamamatsu’s LCOS-SLM system is able to create CGH patterns in real-time and to generate arbitrary wave-fronts and phase distributions – and therefore also imagery of any size. The power-handling capacity of the new generation of LCOS-SLM is so high that it can be even employed for laser marking, cutting and machining.
Hamamatsu has developed a novel projection device, consisting of a single light-emission and phase-modulation device, essentially combining distributed, side-emitting laser structures and a CGH device on a millimetre-size platelet. This so-called iPMSEL (integrated Phase-Modulating Surface-Emitting Laser) is an extremely compact light-pattern generator that can also be used to create time-varying imagery on large areas.
As demonstrated by the DMDs in video projectors, optomechanical scanning can lead to superior system performance and higher cost-effectiveness. This is true both for image generation as well as for LIDAR/TOF scanning. In particular, this required for high-accuracy 3D image acquisition under extremely high background light conditions, as is typically the case in autonomous cars driving in full daylight. Hamamatsu has developed a range of very reliable 1D and 2D micromirror modules, with a (resonant) modulation/scanning frequency of up to 50 kHz.
Although it has been known for many years that organic LEDs can be fabricated on very large (poster-size) areas at low cost, no product has made a commercial appearance until now. The problem is the operational stability of these devices that are sensitive to moisture, to oxygen and to UV light. Hamamatsu has recently made a breakthrough in the production of very stable, high-quality yet low-cost organic LEDs with operational lifetimes of many thousand hours. This could be the long-sought technology for affordable large-area color displays, for which a plethora of applications exist.