ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from ICFO)
Jump to: navigation, search
ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences
L'Institut de Ciències Fotòniques
ICFO logo.jpg
Established 2002 (2002)
Staff 250
Location Barcelona, Spain
Campus Mediterranean Technology Park, Av Canal Olimpic s/n, 08860 Castelldefels (Barcelona), Spain
Website www.icfo.eu

ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences (Catalan: Institut de Ciències Fotòniques) (Spanish: Instituto de Ciencias Fotónicas) is a centre of research excellence devoted to the science and technology of light. Located in Barcelona, Spain, ICFO[1] was created in 2002 by the Government of Catalonia and the Technical University of Catalonia.

The Institute carries out frontier research and trains the next generation of scientists and technologists. ICFO actively collaborates with many leading research centers, universities, hospitals, and a range of private companies based locally and all over the world. ICFO currently hosts 20 research groups working in more than 50 different laboratories. Available to them are a Nanophotonics Fabrication lab, Super-Resolution Light Microscopy & Nanoscopy Lab, an Advanced Engineering Lab and a range of other support facilities. All research groups and facilities are located in a dedicated 10.000 m2 -building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Currently, ICFO counts about 200 researchers, a number that is continuously growing. By 2014, when ICFO completes its ongoing expansion phase, the Institute is to count more than 300 researchers working in 25 different research groups.


Headquarters of ICFO in Castelldefels, Barcelona.

Research at ICFO encompasses four broad thematic areas: nonlinear photonics, quantum photonics, nanophotonics,and biophotonics. Researchers work in a great variety of fields, including quantum information technologies, nanophotonic devices, remote sensors, optoelectronics, integrated optics, ultrafast optics, biophotonics, and biomedical optics. Projects are run as part of both medium- and long-term programs.

The ultimate objective of the research programs carried out at ICFO is to push the frontiers of the science of light and develop advanced light-based technologies. In both the short and the long-term, ICFO programs aim to create new understanding, new solutions, and new tools to help industry and the society at large tackle today’s main challenges.

Focus programs[edit]

Research at ICFO targets the forefront of science and technology based on light with a main focus in Health, Renewable Energy and Information Technologies.

Light for health[edit]

Photonics plays an increasing role in a variety of medical techniques and practices, including non-invasive diagnosis, advanced imaging, and therapies. Examples include photodynamic cancer therapies, pulse oximetry, laser surgery, near infrared spectroscopy, optical coherence tomography, advanced microscopy, and laser treatments in dermatology, to name just a few. ICFO conducts research and development at the cutting-edge of biophotonics and nanophotonics, with a special focus on imaging modalities and techniques that aim at continuously breaking the limits of resolution (both spatial and temporal). Ongoing programs include a variety of advanced multiphoton and fluorescence techniques, single-molecule approaches, pioneering near-field nanoimaging, plasmonics and nanoantenna approaches, Raman imaging, photothermal imaging, and diffuse optical imaging, among others. ICFO also hosts several programs in nanosurgery, neuro-intensive care monitoring, plasmonic oncology, and dermatology.

ICFO collaborates with local hospitals, healthcare centers, biomedical research centers, universities, and corporations alike, acting as the local BioPhotonics Hub. In particular, ICFO organises the ‘Light for Health’ event, which offers the region’s BioPhotonics community a unique opportunity to be brought closer together. The event offers lectures by renowned leaders in the field, lab tours, and a broad range of scientific panels and discussions.

Light for energy[edit]

ICFO Research Centre in Castelldefels, Barcelona

Photonics is at the core of all light-harvesting concepts and technologies like photovoltaics and solar cells, in particular. It also underlies efficient illumination and lighting. Research conducted at ICFO directly addresses the current challenges in energy efficiency, developing disruptive approaches for renewable energy applications. Ongoing programs include a range of advanced low-cost and highly efficient transparent solar cells, transparent photonic approaches, organic LEDs, smart windows, energy efficient optoelectronic devices, photoelectric, thermoelectric, electromechanical transducers, and energy efficient sensors, among others. ICFO also hosts several programs in nanophotonics, including nanostructured materials, nanocavities, nanoantennas, low-cost material-processed nanophotonic devices, and plasmonic enhanced light-harvesting technologies. ICFO collaborates with research centers, universities, and corporations worldwide, acting as the local Green Photonics Hub.

Light for Information[edit]

Photonics technology is central to the Information Society of today and tomorrow. Optical fibers underlie high-speed communication in access, metro, and long-haul networks, making the use of the Internet possible over intercontinental distances. Light is also at the heart of integrated optoelectronic devices for data modulation and routing, CDs and optical data storage, and all types of displays. ICFO conducts research in classical communications, covering areas such as integrated optics, optoelectronics, and optical fiber devices. ICFO also investigates disruptive approaches based on nanophotonics and quantum technologies. Nanophotonics offers an unprecedented miniaturization potential. As for quantum information systems, they represent a qualitative leap forward in the design of specialized communication systems for applications like high-security transactions of commercial or strategic interest. Ongoing research programs focus on areas as diverse as transparent and advanced displays, plasmonic-based devices, light emission and detection by nanoantennas, wide-scope transparent ultrathin-film electrode technologies, novel micro and nanofabrication technologies, compact quantum cryptography, quantum satellite communications (sponsored by the European Space Agency), quantum memories, quantum computation, and advanced quantum information protocols.


Master's degree program in photonics[edit]

ICFO offers a comprehensive Master’s Degree Program in Photonics in collaboration with three universities in the Barcelona metropolitan area—namely, the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), and the University of Barcelona (UB).[2] The Master’s degree program aims at training new researchers in photonics and talented technology specialists, with a particular focus on entrepreneurship. Directed at an international audience, the Master’s program is delivered in English. ICFO is also a partner in the international EUROPHOTONICS[3] Master program providing full scholarship under European Commission's prestigious Erasmus Mundus cooperation and mobility programme.

Topics include optical techniques in biology, applied nonlinear optics, optoelectronics, laser spectroscopy, nanophotonics, quantum optics, quantum information technologies, and ultrafast optics, among many others. The courses provide students with a solid fundamental grounding as well as knowledge in the latest advances in the field. ICFO also offers several opportunities for Master’s students to do their thesis research project with one of the ICFO groups.

PhD program in photonics[edit]

In collaboration with the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), ICFO offers a Ph.D. Program in Photonics focused on cutting-edge research in optical sciences and technologies. Students are given access to state-of-the-art infrastructure for experimental research as well as specialized scientific courses and seminars. In addition, ICFO is also a partner in the EUROPHOTONICS[4] PhD[5] program providing full scholarship under European Commission's prestigious Erasmus Mundus cooperation and mobility programme.

The Ph.D. Program in Photonics also includes a special training package called ICFO+ which offers students a unique opportunity to hone a range of professional and personal skills. Courses on entrepreneurship and research commercialization, in particular, are an integral part of the Ph.D. curriculum. To apply for the Ph.D. Program in Photonics, candidates must hold an official M.Sc. degree or have accumulated a minimum of 300 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits in a study program leading to a Master’s degree or equivalent.

Students who do not hold a Master’s degree or equivalent may consider enrolling in the Master’s Degree Program in Photonics in their first year. Following admission, Ph.D. students work toward the development of a research project and submission of a doctoral dissertation under the supervision and mentoring of an ICFO group leader. In most cases, the Ph.D. is completed in less than four years.

Knowledge and technology transfer[edit]

ICFO acts as a leading partner for the optics and photonics industry by offering them scientific resources, technological advances, and well-trained talented people. The Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) Office at ICFO plays a key role at the interface with the industrial and corporate worlds.

The KTT Office fosters the establishment of new partnerships between ICFO researchers and industrial corporations of all types. Some of these interactions take place within the broader context of academia-industry associations. We are members of the European Photonics Industry Consortium[6] (EPIC)and the International Photonics Commercialization Alliance[7] (IPCA), two international associations that promote the commercialization of photonic technologies. The ICFO takes part in Photonics21,[8] the European Technology Platform (ETP)[9] for Photonics in Europe and in its national equivalent in Spain, Fotónica21.[10] We are also a member of the ETP Nanomedicine[11]

Through its KTT Office, ICFO is also particularly proactive in translating newly generated knowledge into new products and technologies. One example of a start-up created at ICFO is Radiant Light. Starting in 2005, Radiant Light has been commercializing optical parametric oscillators and frequency-conversion devices covering all spectral regions, from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared, and all temporal domains, from the continuous-wave to ultrafast femtosecond timescales.

ICFO also hosts a Corporate Liaison Program (CLP)[1] which serves as a bridge between ICFO researchers and industries and corporations.


  1. ^ ICFO
  2. ^ Masters in Photonics
  3. ^ http://www.europhotonics.org/wordpress/ Erasmus Mundus EUROPHOTONICS
  4. ^ http://www.europhotonics.org/wordpress/ Erasmus Mundus EUROPHOTONICS)
  5. ^ http://ksop.idschools.kit.edu/erasmus_mundus_phd_program.php EUROPHOTONICS PhD)
  6. ^ European Photonics Industry Consortium
  7. ^ International Photonics Commercialization Alliance
  8. ^ Photonics21
  9. ^ European Technology Platforms
  10. ^ Fotónica21
  11. ^ ETP Nanomedicine

External links[edit]