SPIE StartUp Challenge winners announced

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Jonas Zeuner of VitreaLab, centre, is joined onstage by Jenoptik's Song Yop Chung, left, and Ralf Kuschnereit, right. Credit: SPIE

VitreaLab, with its laser-lit chip focused on the 2D and 3D display market - a technology which enables more power-efficient displays - was announced the winner of the $10,000 top prize at the 12th annual SPIE Startup Challenge.

Quantopticon, a designer of simulation software for quantum photonic hardware manufacturers, received the second-place, $5,000 prize. Luminess came in third, winning $2,500, with their versatile platform for safer, more sensitive, and more reliable X-ray medical imaging. 

VitreaLab creates laser-powered photonic integrated circuits to advance the display market and enable holographic displays. 

By replacing the standard backlight unit of an LCD with VitreaLab´s technology, each sub-pixel is supplied by a dedicated light source with correct colour, polarisation and angular distribution.

This significantly enhances the LCD’s performance in terms of energy efficiency, brightness, contrast ratio, and color rendering. Further, by exploiting the coherence and phase stability of VitreaLab photonic integrated circuits, the backlighting problem of holographic displays can be solved.

The SPIE Startup Challenge is supported by Founding Partner Jenoptik, Lead Sponsors MKS Instruments, Hamamatsu, and Thorlabs, and Strategic Partners Aspire360 and NextCorps' Luminate.

Judges included venture capitalists and business-development experts who vet the applicants for their business case, financial case, and competitive advantages. Transformational innovations this year include technologies in quantum computing, semiconductors, additive manufacturing, medical imaging, and display technology.

The ten 2022 SPIE Startup Challenge finalists are:

• Ascend Manufacturing, with a novel 3D printing technology
• LightCare, with a smart, effective, and safe medical optics technology for muscle-training physiology
• Luminess, with Luminess Detectors, a versatile platform for safer, more sensitive, and more reliable X-ray medical imaging
• Modendo Inc., with ultrathin endomicroscopes that provide high-resolution optical imaging and photo-stimulation for currently inaccessible brain regions
• Nicslab, with XDAC, a multichannel power driver that controls the light in PICs
• ORCA Computing, using room temperature and photonic quantum-computing systems to solve complex machine-learning workloads
• Phaseform, with a new approach to adaptive optics
• Quantopticon, with simulation software for quantum photonic hardware manufacturers who want to build optimized quantum photonic devices
• Specto Photonics, with next-generation miniaturized spectrometers to measure fundamental mechanical properties for life sciences and sensing applications
• VitreaLab, with a laser-lit chip for the 2D and 3D display market

The full list of SPIE Startup Challenge finalists can also be found here.