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Three new legends: integrative photonics, metamaterials and the black soldier fly

Aviv Zaevi, Vice President of Technological Infrastructure at the Innovation Authority: "The funding granted to the three associations is part of the Authority's strategy of encouraging high risk-taking by Israeli industry, while developing new core capabilities that will enable market penetration of disruptive breakthrough technologies

The black soldier fly. Illustration:
The black soldier fly. Illustration:

The Innovation Authority announced the establishment of three new associations in 2023 with a budget of NIS 150 million. Bringing together integrative photonics, metamaterials and the black soldier fly that breaks down organic waste into useful substances.

  1. Maged integrative photonics - light for data processing, chips and interception and communication systems - The Research Committee of the Innovation Infrastructure Division of the Innovation Authority approved a budget of approximately NIS 40 million for three years.         

    The main developments that will be promoted in Maged are: Interlaced photonic light source which is a stage in the development of a quantum computer but valuable as a component with a market potential in itself; Giro has a small weight and volume, with an intermediate level of accuracy  Short Navigation) and a significantly lower price than the existing one; Laser-comb for multi-channel optical communication; also A platform for substantial volume reduction for airborne high power laser systems. The advantages of the substrate that will be developed at Magad is expressed in high transparency in the visible and near-IR fields, as well as the ability to integrate electrical circuits on the same photonic chip, thereby reducing volume and weight.           

Four Israeli companies participate in Maged: Alup, Sialo, Quantum Source and New Photonics. In addition, the association is supported in a professional academy by six researchers with knowledge in design and production in the field of silicon: nitride, resonators and active components. The list of researchers includes: Dr. Ilya Goikman from the Technion, Prof. Avi Zadok and Dr. Boris Dasyatov from Bar-Ilan, as well as Prof. Uriel Levy, Prof. Dan Marom and Dr. Liron Stern from the Hebrew University. Also, the manufacturing activity of SiN4 components will be subcontracted by Tower Semiconductor.

The silicon photonics market was estimated in 2021 by MarketAndMarket  At about $1.1B with a growth rate of 26.8% which is due to high demand for the silicon photonics component, the market is expected to reach a value of about $4.6B in 2027.

  • Gathers metamaterials - manipulation is not only emotional and Harry Potter's invisibility cloak becomes a reality - The Research Committee of the Innovation Infrastructure Division approved the work plans and the composition of the partners of the Meta Materials and Surfaces Association, which is expected to operate for 3 years starting in January 2023. The activity budget for the entire period of the association is estimated at approximately NIS 55 million.

The technology of metamaterials and surfaces is based on an intelligent combination of structures (nano or micro) with a characteristic size of a sub-wavelength (a few tenths to a tenth of the wavelength) to create an artificial electromagnetic material with engineered properties on demand, which allow manipulation of the electromagnetic wave passing through the material . The passage of an electromagnetic wave through the same medium, which is made of metamaterials technology, changes the wavefront according to the design, and enables a redesign of the fields and the flow of energy with high efficiency, for the realization of unconventional mirrors, thin lenses, adjustable antennas, wide-angle absorbers, and more.

Despite a dramatic development in research in this field in the last two decades, and a multitude of demonstrations at the laboratory level, the technology has not yet been successfully integrated into significant practical applications in Israel and around the world. The metamaterials and surfaces association will develop the same technological capability in academia and Israeli industry so that it will be possible to design components and implement them in different systems (communications and optics).

10 companies (Elbit, Sargon, Stixpay, Galel, Spectralics, SCD, PCB, Opsis, FVMAT and IKOM) and 10 research groups (the Technion, the Hebrew University, the Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, Ariel University, Bar Ilan University, and Ben Gurion University).

  • Magad Zevov the Black Soldier - How to promote protein substitutes, artificial intelligence and circular economy in one research project? - The Research Committee of the Innovation Infrastructure Division approved the work plans and a budget of about NIS 28 million for the Black Soldier Fly Association (ZHSH) for the development of a new farm animal.

The eight Israeli companies that will take part in the association are: Prism, Ember, Shahar Tishlovot, Energine, Neomana, Entoprotect, Bagira and Rafael Mixtures. These companies will collaborate with nine leading academic research groups from the Volcanic Institute, MiGl, Haifa University, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University.

The need for an association stems from the lack of a broad and shared knowledge base as exists in other farm animals in aspects of reproduction, health, nutrition, ability to cope, and more, as well as from the need to develop industrial processes that are based on trial and error in all aspects of the treatment of the organism - breeding, euthanasia, creating products and handling manure. Improving processes through the integration of innovative technologies is critical to the economic feasibility of using ZAH and product development.

The technology companies in Maged - which include a combination of waste recycling companies, breed and genetics companies, and companies engaged in the development of food for commercial use - have teamed up with academic groups that have unique developments or technological infrastructures that will expand the knowledge base and uses of the ZAHS.

The main aspects that the Association has chosen to address are: improving the nutrition of the Zhash based on the analysis of important nutritional components, improving growth indicators, health, reproduction and infrastructure to create products, but the Association intends to also develop a computerized infrastructure based on the data of the various experiments that will be carried out at the Association, which will be used by the industry in the future As a kind of computerized "recipe book" for the optimization of organic waste streams, the fly species and the final use requirements (required protein/fat values).

*Black Soldier Fly (BSF) is an insect that feeds on organic waste and its 45-day life cycle includes eggs, larvae, pre-maggot, maggot and an adult fly that does not consume food. The maggots that grow inside the waste substrate have the ability to convert various organic wastes into quality products (protein, oil, fertilizer and other products) produced by processing the maggots and as by-products of the process. The fly is not a carrier of diseases and viruses that harm humans or livestock. These features made the ZAHS a significant part in the ability to implement a circular economy around the world. Today, the black fly products are only approved for use as animal feed, but in the future the use will most likely be extended to humans as well - food, cosmetics and medicine.

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