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Photonics Innovation


Photonics Innovations
With a market of over 650 billion euros growing 7% year on year, photonics, or the science of light, is a transversal technology that crosses many sectors, markets and applications: consumers IT, medicine and biology, environment, lighting and energy, industry 4.0, digitalization, sustainable development, mobility, defense and security, smart agriculture. In recent years we are witnessing an explosion of innovations based on photonics that are radically changing the world: think of silicon photonics, which exploits the manufacturing techniques of silicon electronic devices to create hybrid devices for faster and reprogrammable data interconnections; artificial intelligence for microscopy and imaging applications; the techniques of optical detection of pathologies by means of spectroscopy and optical biosensors; future miniaturized cell/phone spectrometers to identify the food we eat; LIDAR sensors for self-driving cars.
This thesis project aims to achieve innovations in the specific field of spectroscopy, or the use of light and its "colors", from ultraviolet to visible up to infrared, to extrapolate information on the matter remotely and not destructive. Spectroscopy is a fundamental research tool in the fields of physics, chemistry and biomedicine, which allows us to investigate the composition, physical, chemical and electronic structure of matter on an atomic, molecular, cellular and macroscopic scale. Starting from an approach called “lean start-up”, the student will identify some problems to be solved and will propose some innovative solutions based on spectroscopy. An experimental research setup will be carried out with the aim of verifying the idea and demonstrating its feasibility. Prior to publication in scientific journals, the intellectual property will be assessed and eventually protected by patent.
If successful, we will study the possible applications of this innovation to bring scientific research out of the laboratory. A “minimum viable product” will be created by means of laboratory tests and prototyping at low TRL (technology readiness level). If the idea is successful, various scenarios open up. The student might continue with a PhD or we could proceed towards the joint foundation of a photonics startup, to be accredited as an academic spin-off, and looking for a financing (venture capital) to validate the innovation and proceed towards scale-up.

Prof. Polli is founder of NIREOS s.r.l. (www.nireos.com), the first start-up born within the Physics Department of Politecnico di Milano in 2018, today solidly on the global market with many products in the field of spectroscopy, and co-founder of SPECTO Photonics (http://spectophotonics.com/) in 2019.