Past Projects


This page and its subpages list some of the larger projects that CAPPA was involved in, which have now completed. Some of them may still have active websites, but please bear in mind that these may no longer be maintained.

Frequency Combs Generated by Semiconductor Lasers for Metrology and Telecommunications

Funding Agency Science Foundation Ireland Programme Principal Investigator Award

This SFI funded Principal Investigator (PI) grant is Dr. Guillaume Huyet’s third consecutive PI award. SFI’s PI programme aims to fund internationally recognised world-class research, as well as provide training opportunities for students and postdoctoral researchers through state-of-the-art research opportunities with world-class researchers and teams.

The focus of Dr. Huyet’s current grant is the study of Frequency Combs generated by semiconductor lasers. Lasers are widely used as a remote measurement tool of high precision; this is commonly seen for example in levelling tools on construction sites, or speed traps on major roads. These tools operate on a scale of millimetres, but the laser can go far beyond this level of precision; to the sub-micrometer level. One recent advance in laser physics and technology is the creation of swept-source lasers. Typical lasers have a very precisely defined colour; in swept-sources, the colour is precisely defined, but it continually changes, in a known and controlled fashion. This sweeping nature allows the interrogation of sub-surface structures in important media, for example human tissue. These novel sources however require the creation of new theoretical and characterisation tools and this has been the focus of the project work.

Two new models have been created, one for very short sweeping lasers that can fit in one’s hand, the second for extremely long sweeping lasers, which require several tens of kilometres of optical fibre to form a cavity. For both laser types we have carried out detailed experimental measurements and achieved excellent alignment between our models and our experiments. We have also begun to stabilise the laser emission through the addition of optical filters within the laser cavity and the injection of light from external lasers.

SFI Logo


Funding Agency EU FP7 Programme Research for the Benefit of SMEs

AQUA-PULSE_Logo_medCAPPA were a partner in the EU FP7 Research for the Benefit of SMEs project, Aqua-Pulse – Photocatalysis with UV LED Sources for Efficient Water Purification, which ran from 2011-2013. The project involved 3 SMEs and 3 Research Providers, and was coordinated by the Irish SME, Epi-Light Ltd. Aqua-Pulse aimed to realise a low-power, low-maintenance water purification solution based on high-brightness UV Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and a photocatalysis method. Such a system would be effective against viruses, bacteria and organic compounds, and would provide an attractive and innovative alternative to current technology utilizing mercury-based UV lamps. It brought together three European SMEs in three different, but complementary, technology areas, and linked them with three RTD Performers to develop new knowledge and a new water purification product which will have significant commercial benefits for all of the SME partners. The project combines technologies in two key areas, UV LED emitters and photocatalysis. This combination of technologies will lead to product advancement in the field of water purification by creating a low cost, more efficient system when compared with current availability.

The Aqua-Pulse project was featured on the Futuris programme on Euronews: see the News section.

For more information, visit

Project Partners

Epi-Light Ltd(Ireland, coordinator)

Advanced Materials (Czech Republic)

Unik Filtersystems (Norway)

Cork Institute of Technology (Ireland)

University of Ulster (United Kingdom)

Technologisk Institute (Norway)
EU_Flag_new This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, under grant agreement no. FP7-SME-2011-BSG-286641

Ultrashort pulse generation in InAs quantum dots

Funding Agency Science Foundation Ireland Programme Starting Investigator Research Grant

Ian O'Driscoll

Dr. Ian O’Driscoll was awarded an SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant to work with CAPPA, and joined the group in August 2012. The grant funds Dr. O’Driscoll and his Ph.D. student, Patrick Finch. The project uses semiconductor quantum dots in order to achieve extremely short optical pulses at room temperature. Such pulses find use in high bit rate optical communications, wave division multiplexing, microscopy, multi-photon imaging and nano surgery. The pulses are created using a technique known as ‘passive mode locking’ where an absorber section within a lasing cavity helps to create pulses and the time between pulses is controlled by the cavity length.

A key requirement for the generation of short pulses is a wide gain spectrum and quantum dots are ideal due to their large inhomogeneous distribution of dot sizes. In theory, a 1.3μm quantum dot laser, with a gain bandwidth of 50 nm, could produce mode locked pulses of just 50 fs. In practice, sub-picosecond pulse widths using two-section quantum dot lasers are rare. The reason is as follows: the true limitation is the width of the useable gain spectrum; at room temperature there is a thermally-induced exchange of carriers between the dots, so they are not operating independently of each other. If the dots were to act as independent oscillators, it would allow access to the full gain bandwidth and thus unlock the true potential of quantum dot lasers for ultra-short pulse generation.

SFI Logo

Femtojoule-per-bit Communications with Nanopillar Lasers on Si

Funding Agency Science Foundation Ireland / NSF / Invest NI Programme US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme

The US-Ireland R&D Programme is a joint funding initiative by funding agencies across three jurisdictions, in the Republic of Ireland (SFI), Northern Ireland (Invest NI) and the USA (NSF/NIH). Projects involve partners in each of the three countries, and the respective agencies fund the researchers based in their jurisdiction. This project involves CAPPA, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of California Los Angeles.

In the past decade, an incredible growth in the field of silicon photonics has taken place. Many groups, both academic and industrial, have devoted considerable time towards optical interconnects, crucial pieces of equipment in modern communications systems. This project aims to produce devices using extremely small pillars of semiconductor material – so-called nanopillars – that can operate on extremely low, “femtojoule per bit” energy levels, a central aim of the current integrated photonics community.

SFI LogoNSF_logoInvest NI Logo

CAPPA Applied Research Enhancement Centre

Funding Agency Enterprise Ireland Programme Applied Research Enhancement Programme
CAPPA opening
ARE Centre Manager, Dr. Eamonn O’Neill (left) and Minister Jimmy Devins (right) discussing an optical design project with Mr. Padraig Murphy, Logitech, at the Centre opening in Oct 2008.

In 2007, the group was awarded €1.25M by Enterprise Ireland to establish an industry-led applied research centre in the fields of optics and photonics, under the Applied Research Enhancement Programme. This award was the forerunner of the current CAPPA Technology Gateway award. It aimed to forge and strengthen links between the researchers at CIT and industry by actively engaging directly with industrial partners. Given the regional industrial profile and its needs, the target sectors for the Centre included medical devices, pharmaceuticals, electronics and naturally photonics itself. The Centre was officially launched by Dr Jimmy Devins T.D., Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, at a ceremony on the 23rd October 2008.

Under the guidance of Centre Manager Dr. Eamonn O’Neill, over the course of 5 years the Centre achieved over 50 industrial projects with more than 30 companies, including start-ups, SMEs and MNCs. It generated and licensed IP of commercial relevance through collaboration and industrial partnership, and was particularly effective in the Innovation Partnership programme. The Centre successfully forged industrial partnerships outside of photonics while at the same time maintaining world class research into semiconductor lasers and materials.

Ireland eu funds logo EU_RDF EI_Logo_new_2013


Funding Agency EU FP6 / Enterprise Ireland Programme ERA-SPOT ERA-Net / EI International Research Fund

The InPhoQuS – Integrated Photonic Crystal and Quantum Dot Structures project ran from 2009-2012. It partnered CAPPA with two companies, Eblana Photonics in Dublin and Innolume in Germany. The project aimed to combine the technologies of quantum dots and photonic crystals to develop new semiconductor laser sources with single frequency emission and improved performance. The novel devices have a wide range of applications in areas such as communications, medicine and sensing, but InPhoQuS specifically targeted the market of next generation 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology.

The InPhoQuS project was funded under the 2009 Call of ERA-SPOT, an ERA-Net established by the EU Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). ERA-SPOT aimed to consolidate research funding activities in Optical Technology throughout Europe, and brought together national funding agencies from six EU Member States; Austria, Germany, France, Ireland, Slovenia and Sweden. The consortium issued a number of joint calls for proposals, to ensure coordinated action across Europe in optics, photonics and optoelectronics research. Enterprise Ireland were the Irish funding agency participating in ERA-SPOT.

Ireland eu funds logo EU_RDF EI_Logo_new_2013 EU_Flag_new This project has benefited from funding by the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme.


Funding Agency Science Foundation Ireland Programme Strategic Research Clusters

PiFAS – Photonic Integration From Atoms to Systems was a Science Foundation Ireland funded Strategic Research Cluster tasked with the goal of developing and supporting photonics research in Ireland. Running from 2007-2012, it combined the activities of several research groups in universities (TCD, DCU, CIT, UCC) across Ireland to achieve an internationally-competitive critical mass of research effort. The Cluster developed advanced techniques for combining different photonic technologies in innovative ways. The PiFAS research team worked closely with Irish researchers and industrial partners to develop the necessary expertise and infrastructure to achieve this goal.

The objectives of PiFAS were:

  • Development of new photonic devices and systems
  • Development of photonic integration, packaging and assembly technologies
  • Training of new researchers in photonics (PhD level)
  • Support photonic academic research in Ireland
  • Support Irish industry to implement photonic technologies in their business
  • Build a critical mass of photonics ‘research and development’ in Ireland

PiFAS Logo

PiFAS was led by the Tyndall National Institute. For more information, visit

SFI Logo


Funding Agency EU FP7 Programme Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship

ochalskiNextDot – Next Generation Quantum Dot Materials and Devices was a 2007-2009 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship funded by the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme. It funded Dr. Tomasz Ochalski to join the group for 24 months from the Institute of Electron Technology in Warsaw, Poland. The project was designed to deliver multiple valuable training objectives, namely to expand Dr. Ochalski’s research experience, to involve him in a multidisciplinary approach to new materials development, to place him on the leading edge of the rapidly expanding field of quantum-dot nanostructures research, to greatly expand his network of contacts within research and industry and to deepen his experience with group leadership and management.

The work aimed to analyse quantum dot systems starting with conventional InGaAs based nano-structures, and progressing to novel quantum dot devices based on III As, Sb devices provided by international collaborators. The work includes both theory based on k.p models and experimental spectroscopy.

EU_Flag_new This project has received funding from the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme through the Marie Curie Actions, under grant agreement no. MEIF-CT-2006-041985