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Technology keeps advancing, but the only way it can make the world a better place is if that technology is put to good use. That’s why Sonia Garcia Blanco and Ward Hendriks started Aluvia: a photonic platform that operates on all wavelengths. It makes it possible to develop new solutions for companies interested in photonic applications. Sonia talks about how Aluvia opens the doors for more innovation.

This story was first published in the Next Icons Magazine. You can read the entire magazine here.

You created a sophisticated technology and brought it to the world with Aluvia. What is its novelty? 

Sonia: “We developed an integrated photonic platform that operates in the ultraviolet spectrum, with very low propagation losses. That wasn’t available before. Applications requiring operation in this wavelength range needed a whole optical table with a bulky setup or large instruments to do their tests. With our technology, you get all of that a lot smaller, which makes photonics a lot more accessible for companies to use for the applications they have in mind. Because that is what Aluvia offers. We created an aluminum oxide integrated photonic platform that goes down into the ultraviolet wavelength range.”

Sounds complicated. Who can use it? And how does it work?

Sonia: “We have quite a broad market which we’re still exploring. However, we already know that companies working on quantum computing, UV microscopy, and AR and VR can benefit from our solution. Some applications we haven’t even thought of ourselves, but that’s exactly the beauty of it. Companies that need an integrated photonic solution come to us with their question. Together, we try to find the best possible solution, which we then fabricate for them.”

It’s clear that you offer endless possibilities. What is the impact you want to make with Aluvia?

Sonia: “I always say that the sky is not the limit, but the imagination of our customers. Our technology opens the door to a myriad of innovations. That was always our goal: that our technology would play a part in making innovations possible so that they can contribute to society. Having ideas is not enough. You have to implement them to make them useful. That’s how you can get things moving forward. It’s so motivating to see the technology move from the lab to actually making a change in society. Now, it’s all about seeing how far we can go. The fields in which we can apply our technology are critical to the world. Think of how quantum computing can help in new inventions, or how we could improve the way UV microscopes work; we could start to see things we cannot see with our current microscopes. The impact we make is that our technology allows science to advance, by which we can accelerate innovation and progress society as a whole.”

Those are some big ambitions. Can you fulfill those dreams if you’re located in Twente?

Sonia: “Definitely. Our research was funded by the Dutch government and through European projects, so we want to give back with Aluvia. Twente is a great place to do so because of the great ecosystem and excitement about photonics integrated circuits (PIC) and chip technology. Just look at the Chip Tech Twente cluster: many people are working on enhancing the field here in Twente. And we are very connected to the Dutch integrated photonics ecosystem, which is currently flourishing thanks to the hard work of Photon Delta. Furthermore, Enschede has a great location within Europe, which makes it easy to branch out and go international. Eventually, it would be great if we could produce chips in Twente, employ people here, and contribute to the local economy. The ecosystem enables us to connect with other companies and institutes within the field and help each other move forward. There is a great synergy, and it brings me joy to contribute to that.” 

"We created an aluminum oxide integrated photonic platform that goes down into the ultraviolet wavelength range."

Sonia Garcia Blanco

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Aluvia is a University of Twente spin-off, founded by Sonia Garcia Blanco and Ward Hendriks. They developed a photonic platform that operates on all wavelengths.

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