Multiphoton Optics, a brand new German company with technology that’s been in development for more than 12 years, creates 3D nano- and microstructures in different materials for use in 3D optical waveguides and other applications, and benefits from COWIN support.
“We have inherent high precision alignment, which is something the standard method of creating optical waveguides lacks. Our technology can go to 3D, which is a capability that sets us apart from the rest of the market,” says Dr Markus Riester, CEO, Multiphoton Optics (www.multiphoton.de).
Entrepreneurs Markus Riester, CEO, and Ruth Houbertz, CTO, founded the company in September 2013 and actually began working on its technology development back in 2001. The company is working with COWIN, an initiative supported by the European Commission to help technology-based startups launch and thrive within Europe.
Timing is everything
In some cases, like this one, the timing involved in launching a company really is everything. Until recently, active optical cable technology was not even on the industry’s radar. Now, it’s on their roadmap. “We’re seeing a huge change in the perception of what optics can do for big data centers and supercomputing technology,” says Riester.
Active optical cables emerged in supercomputing applications only within the past 3 to 5 years. Currently, optical cables are used on the backplane of supercomputers, but within a couple of years the optical interface is expected to shift inside, onboard and even on-chip.
“This will make a real difference in terms of integration and is where Multiphoton Optics’ optical interconnect technology will become really important,” says Regis Hamelin, COWIN partner, supporting Multiphoton Optics in business development and fundraising.
The company’s technology development began back in 2001, and its first demonstration took place in 2005. The technology has been further developed in the FP7 NMP project “METACHEM” since September 2009. Riester and Houbertz realized that at some future point there would be a need for equipment that could manufacture the technology in a real production setting. They waited for the right timing to launch their company—now.
The market for LEDs in optical cables
Multiphoton Optics provides a technology for optically coupling devices, points out Hamelin. “To inject light into the fiber optics from either an LED or laser, you’d need to adapt the optical output of the component to the input of the optical fiber. Today, we use lenses and other optical components to do that. But Multiphoton Optics’ technology enables you to create a much easier integration between a light emitter or a light transceiver and an optical fiber,” he explains.
The main way Multiphoton Optics differentiates itself is by eliminating 70 % of the process steps usually required to create optical waveguides— dropping from more than 20 process steps to a mere 4.
Multiphoton Optics’ technology’s four simple steps involve: dispensing an optical material over a component, curing the material, writing your waveguide, and then doing a final cure.
By eliminating 70% of the process steps, it saves not only time, but also resources, and process materials, which no longer need to be applied multiple times and then washed away. Ruth Houbertz and coworkers were awarded for this work in February 2013 with the Green Photonics Award of the SPIE in the category Optical Communication.
“We have inherent high-precision alignment, which is something the standard method of creating optical waveguides lacks. Our technology can go to 3D, which is a capability that sets us apart from the rest of the market,” Riester says.
Multiphoton Optics’ technology enables writing waveguides in 3D space. By identifying where a component lies in space, you can start writing the waveguides at the optical output of a transmitter with an optimum trajectory to the input of the receiver, and then stop writing the waveguide perfectly aligned on the input side as well as the output side.
“Our competitive advantages are really about reducing costs and improving design freedom,” says Riester. “When you put the component on the substrate first, and then write the connection directly to the component, it gives you a lot of freedom of manufacturing such components because you can use existing processes and written-off equipment to do it, and you don’t need to worry about being ultraprecise because the waveguide writing equipment does the precision alignment.”
Multiphoton Optics’ main goal right now is to raise money to build the equipment and to further develop the technology, so they’re currently seeking investors.
“COWIN was able to help us identify markets, go in-depth into business development, and prepare to present at venture capital events,” notes Riester. “It’s been a very helpful experience and I’m glad we teamed up with COWIN to move the company forward.” Multiphoton Optics participated to the COWIN Investment place on the 10th of October, and had the opportunity to meet with 15 investors. Riester and Houbertz have already had discussions with companies in the fields of optical components and LEDs for active optical cables, but they’re also interested in talking to companies within the lithography space.
“We have the prototype equipment that we can use to create demonstration objects. The next step is to build equipment that can actually be sold to customers,” says Riester.
Within five years or so, Multiphoton Optics’ goal is to be in volume production for photonic packages. “We want to be the key supplier for creating optical interconnects for photonic packages,” Riester adds.
COWIN is an initiative supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme successfully supporting the commercial exploitation of Smart Systems technologies funded by the European Commission in smart systems. COWIN works hand-in-hand with technology holders in helping them to find the right processes, partners and resources to bridge the gap from technology to market. COWIN is supporting also entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of their companies. COWIN has set-up an attractive ecosystem to generate value in exploiting EU research projects results.
More Information on http://www.cowin4u.eu/