2016 was a very interesting year. Just think about the Brexit, the elections in the USA, ongoing conflicts in the Middle-East, the endless stream of war- and economic refugees. Some major 'stars' passed away, Prince, Bowie, Ali & Leonard Cohen to name a few.
But 2016 also brought us the signing of the Paris Agreement to combat Climate Change & Global Warming.
In our field of science, Silicon Photonics continues to be a rapidly growing field, both academically and industrially. More and more new companies emerged with silicon photonics as the base technology and also the big players are fully adopting Silicon Photonics technology.
For the Photonics Research Group, 2016 also brought us some major changes. We've moved with all offices and measurement labs to a brand
new building on the Technology Campus. As a result of Hercules-funding, we were able to purchase a
Raith Voyager E-beam system. We have successfully hosted a
Silicon Photonics Summer School and the 21st Annual IEEE Photonics Society Symposium, both with over 120 participants.
Our researchers did a great job again this year which resulted in a lot of papers and some prizes/awards as well. Jochem Verbist has received the Award for Best Student Presentation at the 18th European Conference on Integrated Optics 2016; Andreas De Groote the Graduate Student Award at the European Materials Research Society Spring Meeting; Raphael Van Laer the prestigious VOCATIO prize; Andreas (again) received the Bronze Medal at the 2016 International Conference on Group IV Photonics; Amin Abbasi the Best Student Paper Award at the 2016 International Semiconductor Laser; Suzanne Bisschop the Best Poster Award at the 21st Annual Symposium of the IEEE Photonics Benelux Chapter. Prof. Roel Baets has been elected a EOS 2016 Fellow Member (European Optical Society) as well as a OSA 2017 Fellow Member (Optical Society of America).
We would also like to congratulate the group member who successfully completed their PhD and are now officially Doctor of Photonics Engineering: Alfonso Ruocco, Sarvagya Dwivedi, John George, Frédéric Peyskens, Raphaël Van Laer, Ashim Dhakal, Hongtao Chen, Weiqiang Xie & Amin Abbasi.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ... and the same applies to us as well (without axing our way through doors of abandoned hotels of course). So, we hosted our annual Group Dinner on the lawn in front of our new building. Beautiful weather, an icecream truck, outdoor activities, a bouncy castle for the kids (and for some of our researchers as well), a delicious BBQ and some good music & drinks afterwards. We've also gone on our Group Away Day to Pairie Daiza, to enjoy the magnificent surroundings & wildlife and did some fun assignments and team-building activities along the way. Besides that, we also had a lot of goodbye-parties, the breakfasts before the monthly group meeting & birthday treats. So, 2016 had a lot of play in store (besides a lot of hard work as well).
2016 (just as any other year), brought us -unfortunately- a lot of rejected project proposals but -more importantly- a lot of accepted ones as well. The Photonics Research Group is involved in two H2020 Pilot Line projects (Pix4Life & Mirphab), had a number of H2020 projects approved (Aquarius, Phresco, TeraBoard, SPICE, OMT), some other international projects such as the Interreg-projects Terafood & SafeSide) and Prof. Gunther Roelkens secured a ERC Proof of Concept project.
The last month of 2016, also had some exciting news in store. Besides the ERC Advanced Grant for Roel and the ERC Starting Grants for Dries, Gunther & Peter from the previous years, we now also have an ERC Consolidator Grant holder among our professors. Prof. Wim Bogaerts received a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant for the PhotonicSwarm project.
Furthermore, a new spin-off company 'Indigo' was launched this month and will develop the next-generation of continuous glucose monitoring devices based on silicon photonics. We wish the best of luck to Danae (nb photonics business developer), Ananth (PRG), Paolo (CMST) and Xiao (Design-group) with their spin-off Indigo.