Photonics Research Group

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2017, a year in review

Let's get started with some important highlights from the Photonics Research Group.
This year we could welcome one more ERC Grant holder among our professors: Prof. Bart Kuyken received a prestigious ERC Starting Grant for the Electric project. That brings our total ERC holders to 6 (ERC Advanced Grant for Roel, ERC Consolidator Grant for Wim and the ERC Starting Grants for Dries, Gunther, Peter & now Bart). Prof. Roel Baets also secured a second ERC Proof of Concept project grant this year, called 'MIRASPEC'.
Prof. Roel Baets has been elected as Director-at-Large of OSA (The Optical Society) and Wim became OSA Senior Member.
On the proposal side: you win some, you loose some (although the balance of winning is not always in our favour). But anyway, we are pleased to engage in the following projects: H2020 MORPHIC (as coordinator), Actphast 4.0, FUN-Comp, HOT, Aquarius, H2020 Pilot Line: PIXAPP, VLAIO: Fantoam & PerSpectrum, INTERREG: Safeside & Terafood.
Artur received a renewal of his FWO PhD-grant and Frederic receives FWO Postdoc-grant. Last month, four FWO Strategic Basic Research Doctoral Grants were awarded to members of the Photonics Research Group, so congrats to Chonghuai, Camiel, Mattias and Gilles.
UGent launched a call to set up expertise centers and we were happy to see both of our proposals accepted. The expertise centre NaMiFab offers expertise and services to UGent partners or partners outside UGent for everything related to cleanroom processes (test and research infrastructure for nano- and microfabrication). NB-Photonics will also offer expertise and services to the UGent research community but has a focus on on-chip silicon photonics.
Prof. Bogaerts organized for the first time a Specialist Course on PIC Design. The course lasted for an entire week and had participants from both UGent but also a fair number from universities across the globe. In a second stage, the chip they've designed was actually fabricated and measured.
Our very first spin-off Trinean has been acquired by Unchained Labs this year but the company will still be based in Flanders on keep on doing their great work. The Lithuanian semiconductor company Brolis also opended a Ghent Research Hub to expand their activities. We are looking forward to continue our collaboration with Brolis in the future.
We also welcome a new IOF Business Developer, dr. ir. Eva Ryckeboer (after Danaë has left to start our spin-off Indigo last year). We wish her the best of luck in this new career path and hope to welcome more spin-offs in the near future!

Our researchers did a great job again this year which resulted in a lot of papers and more important great results.
At Photonics West (January '17), we had 6 invited and one regular paper. At ECIO (April '17), we had one invited talk and 10 papers accepted. At CLEO (May '17), we were very pleased to have a postdeadline paper accepted. At ECOC (September '17), we've doubled that number and had two postdeadline papers accepted.
Without listing all publications of 2017, we would like to highlight some very nice results obtained:

We would also like to congratulate the group member who successfully completed their PhD and are now officially Doctor of Photonics Engineering: Utsav Dave, Daan Martens, Chen Hu, Mark Hsu, Andreas De Groote, Leila Abdollahi, Ruijun Wang & Sulakshna Kumari.
We also have one special new graduate, Pieter Wuytens who obtained the first interdisciplinary doctorate in our faculty and was awarded not only the title Doctor of Photonics Engineering of but also Doctor of Applied Biological Sciences: Cell and Gene Biotechnology!

Next to people leaving the group, we could welcome the following new faces: Khannan, Stijn, Ivo, Lukas, Mi, Irfan, Cenk, Chonghuai, Isaac & Yang. Welcome to the group! And we are also hosting some visiting researchers as well: so a big welcome to Guilherme, Qiang & Zhengzhou. 

Work hard, play hard ... 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 had our annual teambuilding activity Group Away Day for which we used rafts to navigate (based on hints & clues where to go next) through the canals of Ghent, end up at a pizza foodtruck at the recreational site 'Blaarmeersen' and spend an afternoon with teambuilding activities (quiz, gesture game, bouncy castle fun run, PRG Guess Who?, zorb football, ...). Besides that, we also had a lot of goodbye-parties, the breakfasts before the monthly group meeting & birthday treats. So, 2017 had indeed a lot of play in store (besides a lot of hard work as well).

Work hard and not only in the offices. This year we went with the entire (80+) group on our biannual retreat. We (again) went to the Belgian coast to spent three days packed with lectures from the professors (giving a research overview and looking forward to the future); lectures from the technical staff on IT, Cleanroom, Measurement Labs, Simulation software; session on IP, spin-offs, patents and our industrial collaborations; several skill session whereby the more senior members exchanged knowledge with the juniors; ...
Of course, we had some leisure-activities as well. The infamous Photonics Quiz (which deals with everything besides photonics) and a interactive (with 3D goggles) talk by prof. Karel Van Acoleyen (UGent Science Faculty) who took us on a virtual boattrip through Ghent with Einstein in order to try to explain the relativity-theory to a bunch of engineers...

We also engage in public outreach; just to name a few things we've done this year: Andreas (once more) assisted a group of secundary school students from Sint-Bavohumaniora 6WW8 in QuantumSpinOff competition which resulted in winning the Silver Award. Ghent University also celebrated his 200th birthday and during a day-long Science Festival, we organized a Lightpainting workshop for primary school kids and had a LIDAR-demo in De Krook which attracted the attention from a lot of people passing by.

Looking forward to 2018, we can already make some announcements:

UGent also launches a call to organize a MOOC and we were very pleased that our MOOC on Silicon Photonics was accepted. In the course of 2018, we will set-up, test, re-test this MOOC and we hope to see it launched and available to the public in the beginning of 2019.

We are also looking forward to hear good news on new spin-off initiatives but this is something we can only talk about, when things are really official. But we have high hopes to make a couple of spin-off related announcements next year.

We wish you all a very successful 2018!