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Next Icon: Superlight Photonics


Once you have seen colors, you will never go back to black and white. At Superlight Photonics, they understand this like no other. This is why they are developing a full color spectrum laser for photonic applications, of which there are many. CEO Cees Links talks about how their innovation will bring color to the world. 

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

Cees, you became CEO of Superlight Photonics last year. What is so special about what you do?

Cees: “Lasers are generally monochromatic. We have developed a patented technology that converts lasers into a broadband color spectrum. We send a monochromatic laser into the PIC (photonic integrated circuit, ed.) which acts as a kind of prism. This will allow for a rainbow laser to come out. This is a breakthrough that could be compared to color television. After all, color allows us to see so much more. For example, endoscopies are still portrayed in black and white (or actually black and red), but with our application, they can soon be done in color. In addition, the PIC uses less energy which allows us to make the device portable. Today's color lasers are big and bulky devices that take several hours to start up. They also need to constantly be recalibrated and therefore have a lot of downtime. That is why you only see them in research institutes. Our portable laser, however, can provide substantial breakthroughs in the medical, industrial and agricultural sectors."  

Your innovation impacts many different aspects of our society. What does that look like?

Cees: “Our technology is so disruptive that we don't yet know exactly what it will unleash. When color television was first introduced, people wondered whether they really needed one. But now we can't imagine a world without. We expect that in the future, color lasers will become the norm because they provide more depth and insight. For example, during quality controls of levees to check for cracks. As our technology is portable, it will open the door to more possibilities that we can’t even think of yet. The impact of our innovation is so disruptive and far-reaching, we can't fathom it right now." 

If you don’t yet know exactly where you’re going, how do you make sure you make the right choices on the way to success?

Cees: “By talking to our customers a lot. We already have customers around the globe after we launched our first product in November. That was a real highlight for us. It was very special to see how positively our product was received. Yet we also noticed that our customers didn’t know exactly what to do with it. They don't buy the lamps we make but rather the spectroscopes and OCT systems they're in. We knew that could happen and that is why their feedback is incredibly valuable to us. Now we can see which application is most in demand and which distributors we need. And then we can determine what to charge. As we launched our product onto the market quickly, we are now learning from the things the customer is asking for. If we decide to scale up, we want to focus on the right things.”  

So you will continue to develop the product. Does innovation play an important role in your organization?

Cees: “Yes, and at the same time I have learned that innovation is put on a pedestal. Actually, innovation is a continuum from simple quality improvement to breakthrough. Breakthroughs tend to get all the attention but every quality improvement deserves to be recognized as well. The point is to keep asking yourself how something could be done better. How can you make life better, more pleasant and easier for as many people as possible? Businesses certainly play a role in this because when they grow economically, they make more money, more jobs are created and we ultimately all benefit. But everyone plays a role. Back in my Wi-Fi days, I used to say, ‘a connected world is a better world’. When people are connected, they can solve more problems in a better way. For me, innovation is part of the entire palette that helps make the world a better place. Everything is connected. Small innovations contribute to the bigger picture. This means that everyone can play a role in the mission to create a better world."

"Actually, innovation is a continuum from simple quality improvement to breakthrough."

Cees Links

CEO Superlight Photonics

More about
Superlight Photonics

Superlight Photonics develops innovative lasers that cover the full color spectrum using patented photonic integrated circuits (PIC). These portable and energy-efficient lasers offer new possibilities in the medical, industrial, and agricultural sectors. Working closely with end customers, Superlight Photonics continually refines their technology to provide greater depth and insight, similar to the impact of color television. Their mission is to make life better and more pleasant for everyone with small and large innovations.

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