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Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)


The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is a medium-size university in the capital of Belgium. The Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT, 65 FTE) form part of the Faculty of Engineering of VUB. The group is internationally recognized for its basic, strategic, and applied research in the field of “micro-photonics”. B-PHOT is also uniquely involved in many industrially-oriented research projects with Belgian and European companies. Several years ago it was awarded the special status of “Focal Point for Industrial Validation” by the Flemish government for its track record in knowledge transfer and research validation in photonics. VUB-B-PHOT played also a leading role in the structuring and integration of the fragmented European micro-optics and micro-photonics science and technology landscape. Indeed, TONA-VUB coordinated the European Network of Excellence in Micro-Optics NEMO, the Access To Micro-Optics Expertise, Services and Technologies (ACTMOST) and the Access Centre for Photonics Innovation Solutions and Technology Support (ACTPHAST/ACTPHAST 4.0). Finally, VUB-B-PHOT has played a pioneering role in “photonics education” by establishing the first full-fledged photonics engineering curriculum on the European continent.


Role and Commitment of key persons

(including supervisors)

Prof. Dr. Ir. Heidi Ottevaere – WP5 leader, Primary supervisor of ESR7, secondary of ESR7 (30%).

Prof. Dr. Ir. Wendy Meulebroeck – Primary supervisor of ESR7, secondary of ESR8 (30%)


Key Research Facilities, Infrastructure and Equipment

The Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT) has 5 distinct photonic research and technology platforms available. A first platform (the “general photonics laboratories platform”) consists of photonics research labs that feature state-of-the-art high-precision optical and opto-mechanical components, opto-electronic and photonic measurement equipment, lasers, and a variety of high-end optical sources. It is the everyday working environment of B-PHOT’s experimental researchers in photonics. A broad spectral laser system is the second research platform (the “broad spectral laser platform”) and consists of a combination of high-end scientific-grade laser sources. It is TONA’s workhorse for pump-probe experiments in nonlinear micro-photonics. A third platform (the “optical modelling and design platform”) is a powerful computer cluster equipped with a variety of professional modelling software to support optical modelling and photonic design efforts, essential in a strategic research environment where ideas are first explored via modelling, before they are demonstrated. A fourth platform (the “micro-optics fabrication platform”) is its ultra-precision diamond-tooling machine and its cyclotron-based high-energy proton lithographer for the rapid prototyping of free-form optics and of high-aspect ratio plastic micro-optical components respectively. Both manufacturing tools are compatible with mass-replication technologies such as hot embossing and injection moulding. This rapid prototyping line is supported with a 300 mm wafer-replication and welding facility. A fifth and equally unique platform (the “instrumentation and metrology platform”) is the micro-optical measurement and nano-instrumentation facility, which hosts a unique collection of high-end instrumentation for the quantitative characterization of micro- and nano-photonic components and structures, under clean room conditions.


Status of  Research premises

University research premises are independent from other beneficiaries and the partner organisations.


Previous Involvement in Research and Training Programmes

The past years VUB B-PHOT has won sustainable funding for research and training from the EU Framework programmes, the national and regional science foundation and industrial collaboration. More in particular B-PHOT was involved in

1. NEMO (“Network of Excellence on Micro-Optics”), FP6/2003/IST/2.

2. ACTMOST (“Access To Micro-Optics Expertise, Services and Technologies”), FP7-ICT-2010 Support Action.

3. ACTPHAST (“Access CenTre for PHotonics innovAtion Solutions and Technology support”), FP7-ICT-2013-11.

4. SMETHODS (“SME’s Training and Hands-on in Optical Design and Simulation”), FP7-ICT-2011 Support Action.

5. NARNIA (“New Archaeological Research Network for Integrating Approaches to ancient material”), FP7-2011 Marie-Curie ITN.

6. ADOPSYS (“ADvanced OPtical SYStem Design”), FP7-2014 Marie-Curie ITN.

7. INTERFERE (“Sparse Signal Coding for Interference-based Imaging Modalities”), FP7-ERC-CoG-2013.


Current Involvement in Research and Training Programmes

VUB B-PHOT currently coordinates and/or participates in the ITNs

FINESSE (“FIbre NErvous Sensing SystEms”), H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016 and xCLASS (“Next generation Compact Light source And Spectrometer Systems”), H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017.


Relevant Publications and/or Research / Innovation Product

• D. De Coster, Q. Liu, M. Vervaeke, J. Van Erps, J. Missine, H. Thienpont, H. Ottevaere, “Optofluidic chip for single-beam optical trapping of particles enabling confocal Raman measurements”, IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron, Vol. 23, No. 2, Art. No. 5500109, 2017

• T. Verschooten, M. Callewaert, L. Ciaccheri, M. Vervaeke, J. Van Erps, W. De Malsche, A.G. Mignani, H. Thienpont, H. Ottevaere, “Optofluidic multi-measurement system for the online monitoring of lubricant oil”, Measurement Science and Technology, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 015004, 2016  

• D. De Coster, D. Loterie, H. Ottevaere, M. Vervaeke, J. Van Erps, J. Missine, H. Thienpont, “Free-form optics enhanced confocal Raman spectroscopy for optofluidic lab-on-chips”, IEEE Journal of selected topics in Quantum Electronics, Vol. 21, No. 4. pp.1-8, 2015

• H. Ottevaere, S. Van Overmeire, J. Albero, L. Nieradko, G. Desmet, C. Gorecki, H. Thienpont, “Plastic light coupler for absorbance detection in silicon microfluidic channels”, Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, Volume 18, Issue 4, Page 559-568, 2015

• A.G. Mignani, L. Ciaccheri, A.A. Mencaglia, H. Ottevaere, E.E.S. Baca, H. Thienpont, “Optical measurements and pattern-recognition techniques for identifying the characteristics of beer and distinguishing Belgian Beers”, Sens. Act. B-Chem., Vol.179, SI, pp. 140-149, 2013.

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