PHABLABS 4.0: a new ECOP project that adds the power of photonics to Fab Labs

PHABLABS 4.0 aims to inspire young minds, future generations of technicians, engineers and entrepreneurs by making photonics accessible through the ecosystem of Fab Labs in Europe. For this European project, a Photonics Public Private Partnership supported by Photonics21 and Horizon2020, 11 partners and institutes in photonics join forces with 14 pilot Fab Labs. Most of the Photonics partners are members of ECOP (European Centres for Outreach in Photonics). These include VUB, ICFO, NUI and FBH/MBI, where VUB is the ccordinator of this H2020 project and ICFO leads one of the workpackages.

The existing European eco-system of Fab Labs offers the ideal makers platform where young minds and entrepreneurs can effectively experiment with science, tools and the newest technology.  Integrating photonics and its many applications in Fab Labs and Makers Spaces, allows young people to put seemingly unattainable ideas into practice with laser equipment, LED, lenses and optical fiber up to programmable electronic chips in a way that is fun and inspiring.  PHABLABS 4.0. can spark ideas, pave the road to innovative concepts and might subsequently be a starting point for a bright future as a technician, engineer or researcher.

The ambitious roadmap of PHABLABS 4.0 encompasses the development of a suite of 33 Photonics Workshops, 11 Photonics Challenger projects and Photonics Toolkits customized for 3 specific user groups: young minds (10-14 y), students (15-18 y) and young professionals or technicians (+18 years).

Photonics Workshops cover in total 11 different topics that help to understand the wide variety of applications in photonics. Through the tailored modules for each target group, participants will work towards a specific objective or result.

Photonics Challenger Projects start from a well-defined challenge that needs research and creativity to design. Participants will elaborate and test new ideas with a link to other Key Enabling Technologies (KET). A final Photonics Challenger Project Contest raises the bar to develop game-changing projects.

Photonics Toolkits for Workshops or Challenger Projects are low-cost boxes that provide the Fab Labs with a core set of photonics components to facilitate ongoing innovation and stimulate curiosity. Tools, such as optical fibers, optical design software and 3D printer with transparent material, that are not yet available in Fab Labs will be provided.

Each module will stimulate hands-on design, fabrication, experiments, and the building of innovative systems with photonics components. Next to personal development, teamwork and co-creation, the PHABLABS 4.0 modules nurture the 21st Century skills of the participants.

2nd edition of the Young Photonic Congress in Barcelona encourages secondary school students to present light related research studies

On Friday 30 September, the ICFO was filled with posters with a slightly different focus than those that are normally on display in poster sessions. These posters were the work of high school students from around Catalonia who participated in the 2nd Young Photonics Congress, presenting light related research projects from the 2015-2016 school year. In addition to the creation of the research poster, these young scientists were also prepared to explain their posters in English to members of the ICFO community.

The Young Photonic Congress aims to bring together young scientists for their first scientific conference while introducing them to the scientific community. After a warm welcome from Dr. Silvia Carrasco, head of ICFO KTT unit, and Prof. Ignacio Cirac, director of the Theoretical Division of Max Plack Quantum Optics Institute, ICFOnians offered updates on the latest topics of research, as in real scientific meetings. However, the core of the congress was the poster session, where the students were in the spotlight, presenting their own work and discussing their results with their peers and ICFOnians.

This congress was organized in the framework of the Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera • Ignacio Cirac Program Chair. This chair aims to promote world-class research, outreach and dissemination in the targeted area of quantum information science and technology, as well as to promote frontier research at large.

Pre-registration for the Master in Photonics in Barcelona is now open

This master’s degree has been awarded the new distinction as an International Master’s Programme (IMP) by the Government of Catalonia.

The field of optics and photonics is at the forefront of many highly useful technological applications in a wide range of subject matters including everything from information technology and telecommunications and applications in medicine and in industry to metrology and detection and advanced research. That is why it is important to train good researchers and professionals in this field.

This Master’s degree prepares to become a valuable and recognised professional with the ability to develop your skills in R&D departments belonging to the optical, laser, communications or optoelectronics sector, or research institutes.

More information:

Contact information:

Open access to GoPhoton!’s materials

GoPhoton!, ECOP’s FP7 project that aimed at making of Photonics a household word, makes available to anybody interested in it, the outreach materials as well as the guidelines to implement some of the project’s activities. These can be found in GoPhoton!’s website, are freely available to anyone, and include:

  • PHOTONICS Exhibition: It was created by ICFO in English and translated into local languages by the partners. It has been exposed across Europe where it has been visited by almost 400,00 people. The exhibition is composed by an array of posters that have been conceptualized, designed and created to be displayed for public viewing in order to illustrate the impact of Photonics in science and technology and its applications, including industrial applications. Posters are showcased in a set of eye-catching printed displays, each distinctively describing a particular use of Photonics.
  • PHOTONICS Apps: ECOP parter NUI has developed two open-code applications: GoPhoton! Heart Rate and GoPhoton! Colours for smartphones. These are applications that use the light source, camera and processor on the smart phone.
    • GoPhoton! Heart Rate: it uses the camera phone, allowing to measure the heart rate by analysing the changes in absorption of light by the blood as the heart beats
    • GoPhoton! Colours: this app, using the camera phone, allows to examine the individual red, green and blue intensities of light and gives some examples of applications.
  • Guidelines to LIGHTtalks: GoPhotoN! makes available the guidelines to implement LIGHttalks, a series of TEDx-like events with inspirational talks targeting different audiences.  LIGHTtalks consist of an array of live presenters from the scientific, entrepreneurial and industry communities speaking about different aspects of photonics. The aim of these talks is to promote the importance of photonic technologies to the public, especially students, potential entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and industry. GoPhoton! has created two series, one directed to university students (Careers in Photonics), and one directed to entrepreneurs (Lighting the Future).
  • PHOTONICS INNOVATOR toolkit: VUB has developed a collection of hands-on experimentsorganized in toolkits composed of different modules targeting young minds, high-achieving, gifted and talented youngsters, and the industry. Partners have translated the manuals into the local languages and have tested the different modules and collected feedback.
    • Module 1 targets young minds between the ages of 10-18 years, providing sufficient experimental material for small groups of students to work together and experience the fascination of hands-on optics while enhancing their creativity and nurturing their enthusiasm for science.
    • Module 2 targets high-achieving, gifted and talented youngsters encouraging them to build basic Photonics systems that form the basis of Photonics technologies, including optical communication systems with fibres and LEDs.
    • Module 3 targets industry staff and entrepreneurs to convey the role of and possibilities created by Photonics, while hosting team-building activities and showcasing their technologies.
  • Over 40 POSTERS: presented during the Young Photonics Congress organized by ICFO within GoPhoton!. Close to 100 students aged 10-18 presented research projects related to photonics. This translated into more than 40 posters simulating the most professional scientific meetings. The projects presented during the congress spanned a wide range of photonics themes; that is from learning how to measure the speed of light using an egg, as explained by a 12 year old student, and determining Planck’s constant using LEDs as performed by a group of secondary school students, to showing that more information can be gathered when observing an image vertically or horizontally than diagonally, as demonstrated by a student that built a low cost Eye Tracker DIY, or even learning how to synthesize nanomaterials or explaining the STORM  technique and applications. .

Please go to the this link to access the downloadable materials. Should you need a higher resolution of the materials, contact us.

The GoPhoton! project finishes with more than 200 activites attended by 450,000 people

GoPhoton!, ECOP’s FP7 initiative to make of photonics a house held word, ended in February with a very positive balance: over 200 activities attended by 450,000 people and that have impacted over 2,000,000 people.

The mission of GoPhoton! was to make a significant contribution to raising awareness about the importance of Photonics, aiming at having impact on young minds, entrepreneurs and society as a whole. GoPhoton! aimed to transmit a critical message across Europe: Photonics is ubiquitous and pervasive, it is a key enabler of the European economy and job creation, and it offers outstanding career and business opportunities. The project addressed these challenges through a series of actions that were developed through ECOP.

The consortium was composed by: ICFO (coordinator), FBH, VUB, IC, POLIMI, IOTA, NUIG and ILC. It spanned two years, being 2014 dedicated to define the activities, create materials and content and plan the Photonic Splashes, and 2015 to implement the activities. Monitoring of previously defined key performance indicators was done throughout the entire project. Furthermore, GoPhoton! strongly involved relevant European stakeholders, seeking synergies with Photonics21, industrial clusters and educational networks, and the International Year of Light in 2015 as well as other EU funded photonics outreach projects.

The GoPhoton! activities happened in Photonics Splashes, periods of intense photonics outreach activity that included all type of activities. These actions aimed to emphasize different aspects of photonics in a way that each one addressed a different set of audiences. These activities included, photonics exhibitions, talks and workshops, congresses for young people, open days, and photonics shows. The Photonics Splashes started in one of the partner cities, and it replicated sub-sequentially throughout 2015 in all other partner cities.