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BRICS countries continue developing BRICS Virtual Institute of Photonics

On 13-15 October, the BRICS Working Group on Photonics held its second meeting via videoconference. It is coordinated by Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), with support from the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

Working group members discussed the status and prospects of photonics in Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa, research projects in integrated optics, radio photonics, high speed optical communication systems, nanophotonics and metamaterials, as well as photonics applications in biomedical technologies, agriculture and food production.

Developing the BRICS Virtual Institute of Photonics was among the main items on the Meeting’s agenda. Created at Russia’s initiative following the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Science, Technology and Innovation in South Africa in 2018, this virtual institute is based at the Skoltech Centre of Photonics and Quantum Materials, bringing together academics and BRICS development and industrial institutions. It is designed to coordinate activities related to photonics, including fundamental and applied research, as well as creating educational programmes on this subject.

In his opening remarks, Alexei Ponomaryov, Skoltech Vice President for Industrial Cooperation, said that the BRICS countries have been gradually expanding their cooperation since they decided to designate photonics as a priority sphere of research and technology cooperation. “We have a very important task for the future, and I hope that we will promote cooperation in fundamental research, as well as on actual industrial projects,” he pointed out.

Andrei Romanov, Deputy Director, Department for State Scientific and Scientific-Technical Policy of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, noted that this new step in promoting cooperation within BRICS on photonics offers an opportunity to discuss the progress that has been achieved so far, as well as outline development trends. “I am looking forward to a fruitful discussion,” he said.

The discussion of the research and technology projects carried out with support from the BRICS STI Framework Programme included presentations by international research teams who talked about developing new multifunctional sensors, optical communication, using nano heterostructures for developing lasers, quantum data processing, optical integral schemes and space-based optical quantum communication systems.

The Working Group Members discussed priorities for further work in 2021̶ 2022, the possibilities of involving industrial partners in BRICS research projects and, in particular, the prospects for holding the 2nd BRICS Conference on Photonics similar to the first conference that took place in 2016 at Skoltech before the establishment of the Working Group.