Wageningen, October 2022 – OnePlanet Research Center will spend the next six years developing sensors for future-oriented farming systems and growing plant proteins, will contribute to sustainable food provision. For these sensors, the research center will use integrated photonics – a key technology that will make the sensors faster, lighter, more durable, and ultimately cheaper. Earlier this year, PhotonDelta awarded OnePlanet a grant from the National Growth Fund for sensor development. In 2023, OnePlanet will start devising six applications to measure things such as crop growth, the quality and quantity of protein in plant foods, and nitrogen emissions in the air.
Integrated photonics involves using photons (light) instead of electrons (electricity) to transfer and process information. Photonic chips, also referred to as photonic integrated circuits (PICs), integrate photonic functions in microchips. These chips support sustainable, scalable, affordable, and energy-efficient solutions that are required for processes such as future-oriented food production, very accurate measurement of air quality, and preventive healthcare.
OnePlanet develops technological applications for precision agriculture, food provision, the environment, and health. It is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Radboud University, Radboudumc, and research center imec. OnePlanet collaborates with TU Delft and TU Eindhoven for the Growth Fund projects. TU Delft has advanced the core knowledge of photonics technology, while TU Eindhoven can commercialize knowledge with spin-offs such as MantiSpectra. OnePlanet will use the Growth Fund grant to collaborate with various market and research bodies, in order to optimize food production processes through the smart use of sensors and artificial intelligence.
Lex Oosterveld, Principal Scientist at OnePlanet: “The Growth Fund grant will help us bring together all the parties needed to develop, validate, and potentially bring applications to the market.”
Since the National Growth Fund grant award announcement, OnePlanet has been working hard to be able to get started in early 2023. It has assembled a research team and chosen the topics for developing smart applications with integrated photonics. These include real-time measurement of crop growth, nutrients, and sap flow in plants with sensors that can be deployed on a drone, a robot, or a plant with a leaf clip. The other applications involve measuring air quality, including nitrogen, and the quantity and quality of protein in food production processes, building on the photonic microchip technology developed by imec in Leuven.
About OnePlanet Research Center
OnePlanet Research Center is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Radboud University, Radboudumc, and global nano-technology player imec. OnePlanet uses the latest chip and digital technologies to contribute to a society where everyone can live healthily, and access healthy and sustainable food. In three years, OnePlanet went from a vision to create a better future to a physical R&D hub with some 100 employees working at its Wageningen and Nijmegen sites. With all its employees and social and industrial partners, OnePlanet develops breakthrough and implementable innovations for real-life applications.