Bits & Chips - Paul van Gerven
Oct 25, 2023
Enschede-based startup Superlight Photonics has developed a broadband-laser chip that can replace the bulky and power-hungry technology currently used in advanced imaging and metrology equipment.
The idea popped into his head while moving the remainder of his belongings from Germany to his new home in Enschede. During his PhD research at the Department of Ultrafast Dynamics at the Max Planck Institute of Multidisciplinary Sciences, Haider Zia became an expert in the field of ‘white’ lasers. As a post-doc at the University of Twente (UT), he continued manipulating photons, but this time they were confined to chips. Suddenly it dawned on him: he could combine his knowledge of both fields to create an on-chip broadband laser.
Initially, Zia thought of his idea as an interesting scientific advance. Only by discussing it with colleagues and at UT group meetings did it occur to him that his invention in integrated photonics could revolutionize a number of industrial and medical imaging techniques. “Once I realized there’s a lot of market potential, I got excited about pushing it forward into industry,” Zia says.
Cees Links shares Zia’s enthusiasm. Links, who famously closed a deal with Apple that’s generally considered to have started the Wi-Fi era, founded fabless Greenpeak Technologies in 2004. Focusing on wireless technologies for IoT and smart home applications, the company was acquired by US multinational Qorvo in 2016. Links stayed with Qorvo until late last year and then decided to start mentoring startups.