In 2018, the Irish government announced a €500 million initiative, called the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, a 3 year project created to help and encourage Irish companies and researchers to develop their ideas and future-proof the Irish economy. Pilot Photonics proposed Irish Lasers for the Internet of the Future, iLife, and this won funding (2.3m) in 2019.
iLife tackles the global challenge posed by over-worked optical communication networks. Optical frequency combs are a new type of laser that will make possible the transmission of more data into the same fibre infrastructure, using a smaller footprint and reduced power. It was recognised by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation as having the potential to disrupt the market by completely replacing traditional technologies of single mode lasers for long-haul optical transport equipment.
The iLife consortium contains three parties: Pilot Photonics, Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin. Pilot provides overall leadership and is responsible for the design, fabrication and packaging and prototyping of the photonic integrated comb sources. Additionally, Pilot will direct commercialisation efforts by increasing market awareness and engaging with customers.
The benefits of the iLife project may be seen in other technological areas too, such as medical applications and automated vehicles.