Photonics and quantum technology will be brought together in the new Hendrik Casimir Institute of the TU/e. According to the scientific director of the new institute, Martijn Heck, the ambition of the institute is to become the best in the world.
Heck, who himself graduated from the TU/e in 2002, is extensively interviewed on the university website. Among other things, he discusses the role that the institute must play on a global level.
The Hendrik Casimir Institute is intended to help the TU/e shape the information society of the future. “Think of communication, sensors, computers”, Heck says. “These are all exponential technologies that grow very quickly: say by a factor of two every two years, by a factor of ten every ten years. How do we make them possible?”
To get this off the ground, it is a good thing that different institutes, namely those of photonics and of quantum material and technology, are now linked. Not an illogical step, according to Heck. “For example, there are already many photonics people at QT/e (the quantum institute, ed.) because photonics also has added value for quantum. This means that there is quite a bit of overlap between these centres”.
One hundred researchers
What is going to happen in the Hendrik Casimir Institute in the coming years is also clear according to Heck. According to the institute’s director, about one hundred researchers should be active in nine different research areas in the coming years. In ten years’ time, three new, clear-cut fields of study should have been put on the map from those nine disciplines. The training and delivery of good students and PhD students is also an important objective.
“You don’t just want to conduct and publish scientifically relevant research, you also want to contribute to, for example, new start-ups and the continued growth of existing start-ups”, Heck says. “It’s all sorts of cogs that interlock in such an ecosystem”.
But the goals also lie outside the region, and the country. “We always say that we in Eindhoven are so good at photonics and that’s true – we are leading in Europe. But that doesn’t mean we can simply compete with, say, China or the US. Maybe we can on certain points, but we have to stay very sharp on that”.
‘Wanting to be the best worldwide’
According to Heck, it is therefore important that the TU/e continues to strive to be the world’s best in its specialist areas. “If this is a flagship of the university, then you must also want to be the best worldwide, and not the best in Europe. Then you have to compete with the MITs of the world. And even though they may have forty institutes there and we have four in Eindhoven, the most important thing is that we play a role in those four selected areas and that we are able to do so”.
Translated by: Bob