NTU launches $100m facility to advance fibre optics research

NTU launches $100m facility to advance fibre optics research
From left: NTU President Bertil Andersson, Minister of State Teo Ser Luck and University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor Prof Don Nutbeam, launching the new Photonics Institute.

SINGAPORE - The next-generation of ultra-fast Internet or ground-breaking electronic circuits, powered by light and not electricity, could soon become a reality.

Today, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) launched The Photonics Institute, which will focus on research involving light technology such as those found in fibre-optic cables, lasers and consumer products.

The national-level institute, which is a partnership between NTU and the University of Southampton, aims to establish Singapore as a powerhouse on photonics and optics research.

NTU President, Prof Bertil Andersson said photonics is an enabling technology with applications ranging from communications, to manufacturing, and even space technology.

"We have already seen examples of how photonic technologies, such as optical fibres networks and lasers, have changed our society through the Internet," Prof Andersson said

The Guest-of-Honour at the launch ceremony was Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

Mr Teo said: "ASEAN's rising affluence will increase regional demand for consumer devises, cars and better healthcare technologies. These trends will in-turn drive the production of more products manufactured by photonics and laser-aided processes."

The $100 million insitute is funded and supported by industry partners and various national agencies, including the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), DSO National Laboratories, the Economic Development Board Singapore, the Ministry of Education and the National Research Foundation.

The Photonics Institute will comprise five different research centres, all related to the field of photonics and optics. It will have a total of 120 scientists and staff, with a combined floor space of 4,000 sq m.

NTU also unveiled Singapore's first high-tech fibre optic research manufacturing facility today.

The new Centre for Optical Fibre Technology, which will be housed at one of the Photonics Institute's five research centres, gives Singapore the ability to manufacture experimental fibre optic cables for the first time.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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