The development of extremely broadband light sources has revolutionized the world of optics, photonics, and of science and technology in general. Especially broadband light sources with mid-infrared emission could have a tremendous impact on various aspects of people’s daily lives. For example, they could be employed for non-invasive medical diagnostics for diabetes patients, so that pricking one’s finger would no longer be needed. Another application relevant for millions of people worldwide would be on-site optical safety testing of drinking water.

Despite their great application potential, mid-infrared broadband light sources are not yet widely used. Such widespread deployment is mainly hindered by the lack of compactness and portability of the sources. To overcome this bottleneck, young researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (Poland), Vienna University of Technology (Austria) and University of Toronto (Canada) will be collaborating in the frame of the GRAPHENICS project funded by the European Commission. The project targets mid-infrared broadband light generation on a photonic chip where both the chip and the pump laser exciting the photonic waveguides on the chip are made extremely compact. The pump laser to be developed will be a novel small-sized pulsed fiber laser optimized for mid-infrared operation without the need for a bulky cooling system. The chip that will be excited by the pump source will contain the revolutionary material of graphene, which because of its unusual nonlinear optical properties enables efficient broadband light generation within an ultra-small foot print. By finally bringing the pump laser and chip together, the GRAPHENICS partners want to pave the way to the widespread use of mid-infrared broadband light sources in real-life applications.

The GRAPHENICS project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme (FP7) for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No. 618086. More specifically, it is supported by the "Young Explorers" programme within the FP7 Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) funding scheme of the European Commission. The project will run for 3 years starting from December 2013.  

For further information about the GRAPHENICS project, please mail to the project coordinator Nathalie Vermeulen (nvermeul@vub.ac.be).


Through joint theoretical and experimental research efforts, the GRAPHENICS consortium has demonstrated that graphene's Kerr nonlinearity is negative, in contrast to common belief. This new insight has a major impact on how graphene should be implemented in nonlinear optical devices, and has been published in Physical Review Applied.