Pioneering partnership to develop surface emitting laser devices

A pioneering engineering unit and a University spinout have signed a collaboration agreement to develop revolutionary lasers that could have a use in manufacturing and consumer products.

The agreement will see Vector Photonics working closely with the Critical Technologies Accelerator (CTA), which is based within the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre (JWNC), a world-renowned centre of excellence in semiconductor laser research and development at the University.

The new technology involves surface emitting laser devices and so-called PCSELs systems that emit light out of their top surface which can be incorporated in a number of novel applications.

The technology can be used in the cutting of a range of materials during the manufacturing process.

And because PCSEL systems work on lower power, they can also be integrated into next-generation augmented reality and virtual reality headsets.

The CTA, under the directorship of Professor Tony Kelly, is one of 11 projects in the Glasgow City Region to receive UK Government funding as part of its Innovation Accelerator levelling-up programme.

The team is working to identify companies in the West of Scotland, like Vector Photonics, where strategic funding enables growth in the quantum and photonics business cluster.

"This is the perfect demonstration of the importance of the Critical Technologies Accelerator and how it aims to help the manufacturing base in Scotland, work with the local supply chain in the development of new technologies" - Professor Tony Kelly
CTA supports companies with design, test and manufacturing, and utilises the expertise of the JWNC and University of Glasgow academic researchers, enabling multiple industry partners to deliver innovative products into both existing and new emerging markets.

Neil Martin, CEO of Vector Photonics, said: "The surface emitting laser device processing and modelling collaboration, between Vector Photonics and the University of Glasgow, is the first to be awarded by the CTA.

"It leverages our pioneering work in this field and will help accelerate surface emitting laser commercialisation, including PCSELs.

"The resulting lasers, and associated silicon waveguide designs, offer essential, power-saving efficiency benefits in AI and datacentre applications.

"Our software modelling and prototype device test results correlate, giving us every confidence of a successful outcome for this and any further research.

"The project is particularly pertinent as multi-billion-dollar, electronic software modelling firms, Synopsis and Ansys, have merged to enhance their photonics competencies."

Professor Tony Kelly, Director of the CTA said: "The collaboration between the CTA and Vector Photonics is an important step forward for the both of us.

"Our design and fabrication capabilities allow us to support Vector’s R&D capabilities and speed up the time to commercialise PCSEL technology.

"This is the perfect demonstration of the importance of the Critical Technologies Accelerator and how it aims to help the manufacturing base in Scotland, work with the local supply chain in the development of new technologies."