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Academic Partners

Ghent University


CMST (Centre for Microsystems Technology) is a research group in Ghent University presently comprising 58 people (8 professors, 14 postdocs, 22 PhD students and 13 supporting staff members) of 12 different nationalities. The group is affiliated with the department ELIS (Electronics and Information Systems) of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and also with the independent research centre imec. The group is active in a number of dynamically evolving research domains that are presently best categorized as follows:

  • electronic interconnection and assembly on various substrates (laminate, thick and thin films, flex and stretch substrates)
  • display and lighting technology, including LED based projection, liquid crystal on silicon technology, driver design, multiview coding, micromirror design and smart lenses
  • smart power electronics design including DC-DC convertors and DSL line drives and filters
  • optical design, optical interconnection and opto-electronics packaging
  • fluidic microsystems and heterogeneous integration by combining the above mentioned technologies

Prof. Herbert De Smet is responsible for the activities in display and lighting technology.

CMST's staff combines expertise from electronics, mechanics, physics and chemistry. The group is not only performing basic fundamental research on the above mentioned topics, but is also heavily involved in industrial research through its participation in numerous industrial research projects, funded by the national funding agencies or the European Commission, or in bilateral cooperation with industry. CMST has a broad experience in participation in and co-ordination of EC funded projects in the area of microelectronic interconnections and displays. The group has co-ordinated or participated in eight FP4, nine FP5 and twelve FP6 projects and is or has been involved in twenty-two (22) FP7 projects.
The group has a recently (2005) built clean room at its disposal, and has all the necessary equipment and installations to perform the research, planned in this proposal: thin-film and thick film deposition equipment, photolithography tools, wet etching lines, environmental test chambers and measurement equipment, electronic and optical test benches, etc. CMST is member of the Hercules APPLIE4MOS ("Advanced Polymer Prototyping Line for Micro- and Micro-Optical Systems") consortium, which has been awarded a € 3.3M grant for the purchase and operation of 4 sophisticated and unique micromachining tools. The infrastructure consists of an ultraprecision micro/nano diamond tool, a Battenfeld micromoulding machine, a hot embossing machine and a pico/femtosecond laser tool. CMST houses 2 machines (micro moulding and laser tool); the other machines have been installed at the VUB premises.

The Centre for Microsystems Technology bridges the areas of expertise of  the Liquid Crystals and Photonics Group and the B-Phot Group (both see below) with its long experience (dating back from the early eighties) in display systems design and manufacturing technology, ranging from active-matrix (TFT) technology over microdisplay design and back-end technology to LED based projection, low-power high-voltage drivers and flexible display technology.

These largely complementary pools of expertise with a common application area have led to numerous collaborative projects between these groups in the past.


The Liquid Crystals and Photonics Group is part of the department of Electronics and Information Systems (ELIS) at the Faculty of Engineering of the Ghent University in Belgium. The research activity aims at the development of new electro-optical devices based on liquid crystals, electrophoretics or luminescent materials. There is a mix of basic research and applied research. The group has 3 professors, one post-doc researcher, 14 early stage researchers and is headed by Prof. Kristiaan Neyts.

The research of the group is focused on applications in displays, lighting, optical switches and biosensors. The liquid crystal research deals with spatial light modulators, colour filters, silicon waveguides and non-linear spatial solitons. The expertise is based on technology (clean-room facilities for photolithography and device assembly, including glass substrates and silicon wafers), experimental setups (electro-optical characterisation, current measurements, polarisation microscopy) and numerical simulations (LC director calculation, optical transmission, waveguiding). Electrophoresis is used in paper-like displays and biosensing. We study the particle motion by opto-electronic measurements (microscopy, current), in particular in non-polar media. Different theoretical models have been developed for the transport and charging of particles and inverse micelles and elementary charges on a particle in a liquid have been measured. The outcoupling of light from organic LED's is studied experimentally and theoretically. There is optical modelling based on coherent emission and propagation in structured media and on ray tracing (ASAP). This research is linked to applications in displays, lighting and photovoltaics. The LCP group has authored a number of highly cited papers in the field of optical outcoupling.

The group is involved in European projects, bilateral projects with companies and scientific projects funded by government institutions (IWT, FWO, IAP) and Ghent University (it is part of the multidisciplinary research partnership “Centre for nano and biophotonics”). It is co-author of 6 patents and over 100 scientific journal papers in the field, with many papers in high impact factor journals like Physical Review Letters, Applied Physics letters, Optics Letters, Optics Express, …

The LCP group contributes to the SECONDOS project with its knowledge in liquid crystals (modelling, technology and measurement), electronics (switching, voltage gradients in conductive layers) and optics (microscopy, fluorescence, ray tracing). Prof. Neyts is teaching the course on Optical Materials at Ghent University, which is a basic course for all students in the Master Photonics at UGent and VUB.


Vrije Universiteit Brussel


The Brussels Photonics Team B-Phot belongs to the Department of Applied Physics and Photonics (TONA) that is part of the Faculty of Engineering (FirW) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). TONA is chaired by Prof. Hugo Thienpont and hosts:

  • 5 “full-time professors” ZAP
  • 3 “research professors” (1 of which is 100% appointed as ZAP while the two others have a 10% ZAP appointment)
  • 12 senior researchers (post-docs)
  • 34 junior researchers (PhD students)
  • 6 administrative officers
  • 1 junior and 1 senior (50%) business developer
  • 1 project support officer
  • 2 technology support officers for ICT
  • 2 technicians

Together they form a multinational community of more than 65 people actively in pursuit of excellence in education, research, and research valorisation in the exciting domain of photonics. The members of TONA’s teaching staff are responsible for the education and training of Bachelor engineering students in basic and applied physics, and of Master engineering students in photonics. Prof. H. Thienpont is also research director of B-Phot. 

Research in B-Phot is structured in 8 topical research teams. Each team is about 3 to 6 researchers strong, is led by a senior researcher, and focuses on a very actual research topic with societal impact. 

B-Phot has top-technological facilities on both VUB campuses. Its computer clusters for “optical modelling and design” and its “photonics demonstrator” labs are situated in Etterbeek, while its cyclotron-based “prototyping facilities” for the fabrication of high aspect ratio micro-optical components and its clean-rooms equipped with unique top-measurement “optical instrumentation” for quantitative characterisation are located in Jette.
Research at B-Phot is funded through various mechanisms and a variety of projects. Today B-Phot receives world-wide recognition for its pioneering work in photonics education; for its seminal contributions at the cutting-edge of micro-photonics research; for its leadership in international networking; for its visibility, dynamism and initiatives in the European optics and photonics conference scene; and last but not least for its strong track-record in industrial valorisation with Flemish and European companies

B-Phot contributes to the SECONDOS project with their expertise in the modelling, design, fabrication and measurement of micro-optical components and systems. Secondly, they have significant expertise in the different application domains that are targeted by the SECONDOS project.

With respect to the fabrication of micro-optical components it is important to mention the recent acquisition of the above mentioned state-of-the-art prototyping and replication equipment. B-Phot, together with CMST, imec and the polymer and biomaterials research group (UGent) obtained 3 M€ funding for setting up a world-unique Advanced Polymer Prototyping Line for Micro- and Micro-Optical Systems (APPLIE4MOS) to complement the consortium’s existing large-scale infrastructure. This infrastructure generates unprecedented research opportunities for the consortium to pioneer innovative micro-systems.

Industrial Partners


The company ETAP lighting is an independent company that was established in 1949 in Antwerp. They are active in the professional lighting of offices, factories, schools, hospitals, shops and hotels.
Through continuous innovation, the company has acquired a leading position in the European lighting market. Annually, ETAP invests approximately 6 to 7% of their €50M turnover in Research and Development. ETAP has an active innovation policy and has the necessary measurement and prototyping tools to fulfill its tasks in this project. For the characterisation of the adaptive light distribution components, ETAP has the tools to make dedicated luminaire-like fixtures and furthermore the company has a fully equipped 3-story high light distribution measurement setup (‘goniometer’) with matching analysis software. The output of this system is compatible with the industry standard DIALux light calculation software.


Website by Herbert De Smet