The amount of data we send, the computing power of our chips, the number of connected devices: our information society is growing exponentially. Photons and quantum technology hold great promise for the future to continue this trend in an energy-efficient way. The Eindhoven Hendrik Casimir Institute (EHCI) enables unique synergies between these areas of research to allow them to develop optimally. This new institute of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) will be officially launched today by physicist Robert Dijgraf during Opening of the academic year at TU / e.
It is no coincidence that the new institute is named after the Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir (1909 – 2000). Casimir is best known for his work on superconductivity and quantum physics, in particular the Casimir effect: the phenomenon in which two closely spaced plates attract each other subtly as a result of quantum fluctuations. This serves as a metaphor for how the two research areas of the Institute work closely together.
But perhaps most importantly, in his role as director of the Philips Research Laboratory in Eindhoven, Casimir understood better than anyone how basic knowledge and new technology are intertwined. Science is finally finding its way into technology and at the same time, science is driven by new technological advances. This is called science and technology spiral It symbolizes the philosophy of the new institute.
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Two main areas of technology
As the only institute in the Netherlands, the new institute will intelligently “connect” ultrafast optical junctions based on light and the remarkable computational magic of quantum technology. “When developing new technologies, you always have to make compromises to make them fit for applications,” says Martijn Heck, EHCI’s scientific director. The new institute will bring much-needed synergy to setting clearer directions for these areas and making the right choices.
Photons and quantum technology are the answer to the rapidly approaching limits of current technology that is rapidly growing our information society. From the computing power of the device you’re reading this article on, to the number of devices connected to the Internet, it all doubles every two to three years. “This trend can only be sustained through breakthroughs in materials, processes, and devices, and their comprehensive integration into systems,” Heck says.
From lab to practice
Both photonics and quantum research are world-class in Eindhoven, as evidenced by recent multi-million dollar grants, among other things. From Foton Delta and the National Growth Fund. Work within the Institute takes place at different levels: from groundbreaking science in materials, through new devices and innovative chips, to the influential systems that will shape our world in the future.
This approach, which is already being used successfully at TU/e to bring integrated photonics technology from the lab to real-world applications, will also be used for quantum technology and other emerging information technologies.
“Within ten years, the institute will make important contributions to new concepts such as quantum and neural computing, new technologies for energy-efficient and secure communications, pressure biosensors for disease detection and sensors with precision at atomic scale,” Heck.
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