PHOTONICS FOR SPACE ENVIRONMENTS: COOPERATION BETWEEN ASI AND SANT'ANNA SCHOOL INPHOTEC CENTER OF TECIP INSTITUTE RESULTING IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR SPACE EXPLORATION

The Italian Space Agency and Sant’Anna School INPHOTEC (for Integrated Photonic Technologies) Center of the TECIP Institute announced a collaboration agreement for the innovative use of integrated photonic technologies for space missions. The agreement presented today in Pisa by Roberto Battiston, president of Italian Space Agency, Pierdomenico Perata, rector of Sant’Anna School and Giancarlo Prati, general manager - INPHOTEC, shall immediately enter into force.

Integrated Photonics represents a strategic technology for the 21st century, and is based on the use of optical circuits operating at wavelengths of light to carry out numerous functions that are traditionally performed by electronic circuits. This innovative technology is progressively integrating with electronics, expanding its use in many fields, such as telecommunications, biomedical, defense and data processing. The use of photonics for satellite applications represents a huge technological leap in the space sector, being able to make a significant contribution to energy efficiency, mass reduction and overall dimensions of the apparatus, to radiation resistance, the speed of processing and flexibility in use.

According to Pierdomenico Perata, rector of Sant’Anna School, “the agreement signed on November 18th confirmed Sant’Anna School high academic ability to perform research, which is internationally recognized as the most prestigious journals accepted and published our papers. We learned how to combine scientific research and education to face the challenges of many strategic sectors such as space exploration. Our cooperation agreement with the Italian Space Agency is intended to develop technologies for deep space missions. We are delighted - he continued - to bring our contribution so that our country as a whole can play a leading role in the space exploration challenge. In fact, Sant'Anna School has already made significant contributions to ‘space-based’ medical research".

"Photonics – said Roberto Battiston, will provide solutions to spaceflight research. Italy already holds a record for satellite-based quantum communications and intends to continue to develop this strategic technology, which, as well as having important economic impacts, is essential for future space missions".

The establishment of Sant’Anna School INPHOTEC research centre with the financial support of Tuscany Region – said Giancarlo Prati, represented a great opportunity to focus on new concepts for photonic integrated devices and to be active in the field of photonic integration - more specifically silicon photonics, which form the core of today’s telecommunication and data infrastructure.

The INPHOTEC photonics center was launched in January 2015 and has assumed a clear leadership role in space optical communications, able to produce industrial-grade photonic integrated circuits. Italian Space Agency and Sant’Anna School are well prepared to face the challenge for global infrastructure and able to reap the fruits of the past fifty years of developmental effort.

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