November 9, 2016

Prizewinning start-ups

					CODE_n contest

Almost 400 start-ups from 40 countries entered the CODE_n contest. The award went to a young Austrian photonics company.

CODE_n Festival in Karlsruhe. In September 2016, around 5,000 international visitors listened to more than 200 presentations about digital changes in the finance, mobility, health care, and photonics sectors. One thing was clear: Wherever digital change breaks ground, photonics is the enabler.

Dr. Peter Leibinger, Vice Chairman of TRUMPF GmbH + Co.KG explained this in his presentation. As a tool, light is omnipresent and without it we would not have smartphones or broadband Internet. “It is only due to fiber optic networks and laser technology that the data volume transferred globally has been able to grow by a factor of 14 million over the last 12 years,” he explained. He said that the efficiency, precision, and quality of industrial production had also developed rapidly because of laser technology. As an enabler for chip miniaturization, photonics is also behind Moore's Law—according to which the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubles every 18 months. “We are working on laser-based EUV lithography, which will continue Moore's Law—and be a key driver of the global economy,” he said.

Leibinger showed that photonics is involved in all important future trends. Networked lighting enables smart houses, cities, and traffic systems. Microscopy provides insights into living cells, advanced scientific findings, and medical diagnostics. Microoptics allow minimally invasive surgery. Optical sensors measure the universe and nano circuits and, together with microprocessors and optical data networks, they are the backbone of Industry 4.0. And last but not least, displays as the gateway to digital worlds.

Appropriately, considering Leibinger's presentation, from the 385 competitors, the jury of the Code-n Start-Up Contest chose a winner from the field of photonics: XARION Laser Acoustics GmbH from Vienna. The team has developed an acoustic laser sensor system that detects the influence of sound waves on the speed of light. The process works at frequencies of 10 Hertz to 1 Megahertz in air and up to 25 Megahertz in liquids. The applications range from process monitoring, through nondestructive testing and photoacoustic imaging in medical diagnostics to use in sound studios. In addition to the winning team, more than a dozen other teams from the field of photonics were among the finalists.