ALUVia projectNewsNew spin-off: Aluvia Photonics

New spin-off: Aluvia Photonics “The imagination of our future clients is the limit.”

Twente is growing as a photonics hotspot. The founding of the spin-off Aluvia Photonics is a new addition to the ecosystem. With their technology that makes UV photonics integrated circuits (PIC) applications possible, University of Twente researchers Sonia Garcia Blanco and Ward Hendriks aim to boost the development of new technologies.

Ultraviolet wavelength range

Sonia and Ward didn’t invent a new product. Instead, they discovered a way of developing an aluminum oxide integrated photonic platform that goes down into the ultraviolet wavelength range. “That basically means that in this wavelength range, we’re not stuck with big systems anymore and that we can miniaturize them. Furthermore, it opens the door to broadband operation down to the UV spectrum.” What the applications of that technology could look like? Ward: “Especially in industry, the technology could increase efficiency. For example, when mixing paint. Now, you have to take a sample and bring it to a bulky setup to do the quality control. With our technology, you could measure it continuously in the paint barrel itself.”

Let people do what they’re good at

Even though they can list some applications, Sonia and Ward focus on technology. Ward explains: “The technology is never done. There is always room for improvement. Yet, we felt the need to start Aluvia because science shouldn’t stay at the university. We’re funded by society, so we must also give back.” Sonia adds: “We have been working for years on this technology, we wrote papers on it, but then we thought: now what? Do we move on? Do we find another grant to start developing a new technology? That didn’t feel right because we knew we could make the world a better place with our technology. So we started Aluvia. Now, at Aluvia, we develop the technology and collaborate with others for the applications. That way, we let people do what they’re good at!”

Enabling technology

Still, the pair is happy with their new role as entrepreneurs. “I wanted to change the world with our innovation, but I needed help doing that,” says Ward. “Building the spin-off was exactly what we needed.” Sonia agrees: “The environment at the University of Twente is very suitable for such an entrepreneurial adventure. Because of all the support, there is a low starting threshold, so it doesn’t feel like you’re starting something impossible.” And the possibilities are endless to them. Sonia lights up when listing all possible applications: “Factories with biochemical processes, metrology, UV lasers, even quantum computing… It could all benefit from our technology. The imagination of our future clients is the limit. We can fill the gap in the ecosystem. In the end, our technology enables the acceleration of new technologies.”

Future in Twente

In the future, Sonia and Ward see Aluvia thriving in Twente. Ward: “There’s a nice synergy here in Twente and within the Photon Delta ecosystem in the Netherlands. No one knows everything on their own, so you need to collaborate. Here, each company has a different focus, and combining that is the strength.” Sonia agrees: “The ingredients to make impact are in the ecosystem.” All the more reason to stay in Twente and grow from there. Sonia can envision it clear as day: “In ten years from now, we’d still be in Twente but operating all over Europe. We’ll have lots of happy employees and a full production line.” Ward adds to that dream: “By then, the first applications should be available in products. Maybe not yet in people’s cell phones, but definitely in industry.” Sonia agrees. “Currently, we’re still in the starting phase, so it’s all still very exciting. But I can recommend this journey to all researchers looking to make impact. Just do it because the university and Novel-T will provide all the support you need.”

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