• Llum a les Ones 2018

    Get ready for the change! This year, ICFO launches the 5th edition of the literary contest, “Llum a les Ones” (The Light on the Waves), a science fiction writing contest aimed at bringing photonics closer to society by motivating high school students and the general public to write short stories or poems about light.

    For this year’s edition, we encourage participants to write about climate change. We would like participants to imagine an alternative world (past, future, or extra-terrestrial), with a peculiar climatic scenario (Utopian, Dystopian or Arcadian) that has been conditioned by civilization. How can solar sails or fluorescent tubes, fiber optics, spectroscopes, infrared or ultraviolet rays, photovoltaic panels or any photonic artefact play a (relevant or discrete) role in your story?

    The contest is organized by ICFO, in collaboration with CCCB Educación and the Magazine Principia. Those who participate will have the challenge of writing a short story or poem that can be submitted within any of the three categories: ESO, Baccalaureate and formative cycles; and over 18 years. The different pieces should focus on the impact that climate change has or will have on the planet and/or its inhabitants.

    A prestigious jury of scientists and writers will select the winning texts, which will be published in the June 2018 issue of the Principia Magazine (in print and online). In addition, each of these winning texts will have the chance of becoming part of the lyrics of a song that will be composed by a musical group and performed at a final concert, which will take place at the CCCB theatre during the second semester of 2018.

    Participants have until April 23rd to send in their texts. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in a unique contest that aims to inspire young generations to search for ways to solve increasingly problematic climate change issues that need an immediate solution!

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  • International Day of Light

    The 39th Session of the UNESCO General Conference has today proclaimed the date of May 16th as the International Day of Light. The proclamation of this annual International Day will enable global appreciation of the central role that light and light-based technologies play in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, technology, culture, education, and sustainable development. The International Day of Light is an enduring follow-up to UNESCO’s highly successful International Year of Light in 2015 that reached over 100 million people in over 140 countries. The International Day of Light was introduced to UNESCO by sponsors Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand and the Russian Federation, and supported at the UNESCO Executive Board and the General Conference by 27 countries: Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Iran, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Nigeria, Paraguay, Qatar, Togo, Vietnam, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

    The International Day of Light is administered from UNESCO’s International Basic Science Programme by a Steering Committee that also includes representatives from: the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), Bosca, the European Centres for Outreach in Photonics (ECOP), the European Physical Society (EPS), the International Association of lighting Designers (IALD), the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the International Commission on Illumination (CIE), - the international network of accelerator based light sources, Light: Science and Applications, The Optical Society (OSA), Philips Lighting, the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) and Thorlabs.

    Partners worldwide are now making plans for an ambitious series of outreach and education activities in May 2018, with special focus on students, young people and the public at large. In addition, a flagship inauguration featuring Nobel Laureates and leaders in areas of education, industry, design and lighting will take place on 16 May 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

    Involvement and Opportunities: UNESCO welcomes all partners who wish to get involved in the International Day of Light either through organizing their own activities or by supporting the flagship event on May 16 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. For event registration, enquiries about partnership opportunities, and any other questions, please contact:

    John Dudley IDL 2018 Steering Committee Chair -

    Jean-Paul Ngome Abiaga - International Basic Sciences Programme - UNESCO HQ, Paris

    Jorge Rivero González - International Day of Light Secretariat & Press Officer -

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  • UNESCO endorses annual International Day of Light

    ICFO, as co-founder and acting coordinator of the ECOP alliance (European Centres for Outreach in Photonics), will participate and have an acting role on the steering committee of the new International Day of Light, to be proclaimed at the General Conference of UNESCO in November 2017 and celebrated for the first time on May 16, 2018.

    Building on the success of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015, the International Day of Light will help to provide an annual focal point for the appreciation of the role that light plays in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, culture, education, sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy. The broad theme of light will allow many different sectors of society to participate in activities around the world to raise awareness of science and technology, art and culture, and their importance in achieving the goals of UNESCO — education, equality and peace.

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  • PHABLABS 4.0 for Photonics

    PHABLABS 4.0 was created with the goal of achieving a lasting, positive impact on the way photonics is integrated into the rapidly expanding ecosystem of European Fab Labs and Makerslabs, resulting in a larger and better skilled photonics workforce with superior innovation capacity in photonics to support the next revolution in digitization.

    By combining the synergies and know-how of top experts from 11 European photonics institutes with the Fab Lab stakeholders, PHABLABS 4.0 will devise and deliver a set of 33 Photonics Workshops, 11 Photonics Challenger projects and Photonics Toolkits aimed at stimulating creativity, hands-on design, fabrication, experiments, and the building of innovative systems with photonics. All these tools will be created and developed to enhance Fab Labs and Makerslab with photonics activities tailored for 3 different target audiences: young minds (10-14y), students (15y-18y) and young professionals and technicians.

    ICFO has become an active member of this European initiative, with the role of leading the WP2 (Photonics challenger projects @ photonics-enhanced Fablabs) as well as coordinating and developing workshops, gender action teams, dissemination activities, and providing support throughout the whole project.

    ICFO has selected “Photonics for Life” as the central topic for its workshops and Challenger project, since it will allow participants to understand how photonics is at the very core of imaging devices, diagnostic technologies and a broad range of healthcare applications. ICFO has a consolidated “Light for Health” focus programme, and several research groups working in different topics around “Photonics for Life” and biophotonics, concentrating photonics technologies and applications in fields such as early diagnosis sensor, quality control systems, imaging technologies, and medical devices among others. ICFO collaborates with local hospitals, health care centers, biomedical research centers, Universities and corporations.

    The PHABLABS 4.0 project intends to harness the power of the growing innovation ecosystem of the Fab Labs and equip it with sufficient material to really engage, excite and educate youngsters, students, technicians and young professionals alike in the skills of working and innovating with light. The ultimate impact of PHABLABS 4.0 will be seen in the emergence of a much larger and better trained workforce with 21st Century skills capable of translating the potential of photonics as a key enabling technology into tangible products for the benefit of society.

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  • More than 100,000 people challenge Einstein in a unique worldwide Quantum Physics experiment

    •On November 30th, more than 100,000 people participated in the BIG Bell Test, a global experiment to test the laws of quantum physics.

    •Participants were able to complete more than half a million levels of the video game that generated more than 90 million bits, a number that tripled the initial expectations of the scientific team leading the project

    On November 30th, for the first time, the world had the opportunity to participate in and contribute to this unique worldwide experiment, with the aim of testing the laws of quantum physics.

    Coordinated by ICFO, twelve laboratories from around the world came together to put in motion the BIG Bell Test: worldwide quantum experiments powered by human randomness, with the aim of demonstrating experimentally that the microscopic world is in fact as strange as quantum physics predicts: particles that behave in a random way, determining their properties only when we look at them; strange instantaneous interactions at a distance ... predictions that were questioned by Einstein, who rejected them completely.

    During the 48 hours in which it was November 30th at some place on the planet, participants contributed to the initiative, generating sequences of zeros and ones through a video game to get participants to create sequences of numbers that were as random as possible. Each of these bits was used to control in real-time the experimental conditions of the labs. They moved mirrors, polarizing filters, waveplates ... elements located on optical tables and that affect the type of measurements that are made on the different quantum systems in each lab.

    Together all the participants provided scientists with millions of unpredictable, independent decisions which were used to measure their particles. This independence is a crucial feature for the conclusions of the Bell tests to be valid. Using the sequences provided by the participants, the scientists have been able to verify whether or not their particles were intertwined by the “spooky action at a distance” that Einstein could not accept. In a nutshell, the Bell test states that experimentalists have to do their measurements with the help of human decisions and calculate the ‘Bell parameter’ (also known as the parameter S). If the world is as Einstein believes, predictable and without ‘spooky actions at a distance’, then S cannot be greater than 2. That is, S should always be less than 2. Otherwise, the inequality has been violated, indicating the presence of intrinsically quantum phenomena.

    By 13:00 CET, the minimum number of participations needed to assure enough bits to power the experiments had already been surpassed, registering above 1000 bits per second in a stable manner over the course of several hours. By early afternoon CET, some of the labs had been able to obtain preliminary results, confirming violations of Bell’s inequality, and thus refuting Einstein, giving their complete support to the predictions of quantum physics.

    ICREA Professor at ICFO Morgan Mitchell reflects that ‘the project required contributions from many people in very different areas: the scientists pushed their experiments to new limits, the public very generously gave us their time in support of science, and educators found new ways to communicate between these two groups. I’m thrilled with all of the different things we have learned through the BIG Bell test.’

    Carlos Abellán, researcher at ICFO and instigator of the Project, emphasizes that ‘the participation we achieved today for the Big Bell Test is absolutely astonishing and unprecedented. I’m excited about all the results we’re already receiving from the labs’. In Barcelona, in collaboration with “La Caixa” Foundation, the BIG Bell Test team had the opportunity to share the project with an audience of more than 300 people gathered in the Auditorium of CosmoCaixa, who witnessed in real time through several live connections, the experiments running in different labs in Shanghai, Concepción, Nice and Barcelona. This group further contributed to the experiment by participating in mass in a final tournament of the video game, created with Kaitos Games, to find the most random person in the audience. The event was streamed live around the world, and in China alone generated an audience of more than 300,000 people.

    The BIG Bell Test has succeeded in uniting the scientific world and society in a common goal -an experiment that has demonstrated the unique value of human randomness to study certain fundamental processes of nature.

    The BIG Bell Test team thanks the thousands of users who have so generously and enthusiastically contributed to this initiative. Without this essential contribution, the experiment would never have been possible.

    Finally, we would like to thank all the institutions that have helped support this project, such as the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the Cellex Foundation, the Mir-Puig Foundation, the Foundation Catalunya la Pedrera, “La Caixa” Foundation, AXA Research Fund , the European Research Council, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), the Severo Ochoa program of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

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  • The BIG Bell Test: quantum physics entangled with human randomness

    •The "BIG Bell Test" invites everyone in the world to participate in a unique worldwide quantum physics experiment on November 30th.

    •The experiments will test Albert Einstein’s idea of "local realism," a phenomenon at the very core of the mysteries of the quantum world.

    •Coordinated by ICFO, the project needs the contribution of at least 30,000 people who will generate sequences of bits as randomly as possible.

    Would you like to be part of a worldwide scientific experiment that will test the laws of quantum physics? November 30th is your chance! Coordinated by ICFO- The Institute of Photonic Sciences, the BIG Bell Test: worldwide quantum experiments powered by human randomness aims to conduct a series of quantum experiments in labs around the world that, for the first time, will be controlled by human decisions made by volunteers (aka Bellsters), thus testing the laws of quantum physics.

    The experiments will run simultaneously on November 30th in twelve different labs around the world. During that day, participants who want to contribute to the initiative will be able to do so through a video game created specifically for the project in which they will have to introduce sequences of 0s and 1s, trying to be as random as possible.

    The sequences of 0s and 1s will control the experiments by determining the measurement conditions in each lab. Anyone can participate regardless of their age. To contribute on the 30th, participants need a device with internet connection. They need only connect to the video game and try to pass all the levels, thus generating the maximum possible quantity of bits.

    The initiative originated from ICFO’s contributions to the loophole-free Bell tests of 2015, experiments which required an extraordinary attention to the nature of randomness and its role in physics experiments. ICFO contributed to these experiments by using a physical random number generator that produced very fast, very pure random numbers. Those experiments inspired the idea of a large-scale, human-driven experiment using currently available internet technologies.

    The twelve labs that will be running experiments on November 30th are:

  • •ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences (Barcelona),

  • •USA National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (Boulder),

  • •Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) (Munich),

  • •Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) OEAW (Viena),

  • •Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée (LPMC ) - Université Nice/CNRS (Nice),

  • •Quantum Device Lab (QUDEV)- ETH Zurich (Zurich).

  • •Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) – Griffith University (Brisbane),

  • •Arc Center of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) - University of Queensland (Brisbane),

  • •The Centro de Optica y Fotónica (CEFOP) - Departamento de Ingeniería Eléctrica de la Universidad de Concepción (Concepción), in collaboration with the Departamento de Ingeniería Eléctrica – la Linköping Universitet (Linköping), the Universidad de Sevilla (Sevilla) and the Dipartimento di Fisica-Sapienza Università di Roma (Roma),

  • • Dipartimento di Fisica-Sapienza Università di Roma (Roma) in collaboration with the International Institute of Physics del Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (Nadal),

  • • Center for excellence and Synergetic Innovation Center of Quantum Information and Quantum Physics (CAS) / USTC – University of Science and Technology of China (Shanghai),

  • • División Óptica Cuántica (CITEDEF) and the Departamento de Física, FCEyN, Universidad de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires),

  • The experiments will test, among other things, the properties of entangled particles.

    Step by Step instructions for contributing to the BIG Bell Test:

    1. On Nov 30th, you can contribute all day long, from 0: 00h (Australia time) to 23: 59hs (Boulder time)

    2. You can contribute anywhere- at home, on the bus, on the train, in the park, … anywhere where there is an internet connection.

    3. To contribute, enter

    4. Click on the tab Contribute

    5. Click on the BIG Bell Quest

    6. Register / Sign up (This is super important!!!). You can sign up right now and start practicing. If you register, on Nov 30th you will be notified as to which laboratory used your sequences of bits for their experiment.

    7. Fill in the "+ Profile" in your user profile zone (upper right corner).

    8. Try to pass all 6 levels of the BIG Bell Quest. Contribute for at least 10 minutes. Difficulty increases with level. Note: the more you contribute, the more points you will generate and the higher you will be in the ranking!

    9. Optional: Create groups and events with your friends. To create groups, go into your user profile in the Account section (upper right corner). You may create up to 3 groups. Pass the name of the group you created to your friends (e.g. John\'s group) and tell them to put that name in their profile accounts so that they can participate in your group and compete against you and the rest of your friends.

    Follow us @TheBellsters!

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  • The BIG Bell Test

    Would you like to know how your human unpredictability can help advance science? This is your chance! On November 30th 2016, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a unique worldwide project that will use human randomness to power experiments that test the laws of quantum physics.

    Coordinated by ICFO, the BIG Bell Test is a worldwide project that intends to carry out a set of simultaneous quantum physics experiments in different labs around the world on November 30th. The experiments need the participation of a large number of people, who will contribute to the initiative by behaving as randomly as possible.

    This initiative was born from ICFO’s contributions to the loophole-free Bell tests of 2015, which required an extraordinary attention to the nature of randomness and its role in physics experiments. ICFO contributed to these experiments by using a physical random number generator that produced very fast, very pure random numbers. Those experiments inspired the idea of a large-scale human-driven experiment using internet technologies.

    On November 30th, there will be nine experiments running, carried out by nine scientific partners: CQC2T -- Griffith University and EQuS -- University of Queensland (Brisbane-Australia), CEFOP/Department of Electrical Engineering of the Universidad de Concepción (Concepción-Chile), which node includes the Department of Electrical Engineering - Linköping University, the University of Sevilla and the Dipartimento di Fisica—Sapienza Università di Roma, CAS --University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei-China), ICFO (Barcelona), IQOQI/OEAW (Vienna-Austria), LMU-Ludwig-Maximilian University (Munich), LPMC -- Université Nice/CNRS (Nice-France), QUDEV- ETH Zurich (Zurich). The experiments will test, among many other things, the properties of entangled particles.

    In order to consider it a success, the project needs the contribution of at least 30.000 people, on November 30th. On that day participants around the world will be asked to contribute through a video game, tailored specifically for this project that can be found on the website (The BIG Bell Quest). Everyone who joins the initiative will be challenged to create a sequence of 0s and 1s as unpredictable or random as possible. These bits will be sent live to the quantum physics experiments, where they will determine the "questions asked" (i.e., the measurements made) of quantum objects including atoms, photons, and superconductors.

    The BIG Bell Test’s ultimate goal is to show for the first time that human choices can contribute to fundamental science, and at the same time, to perform a suite of never-before-attempted experiments. We invite you to contribute to science by joining the Bellster Community and showing us how unpredictable you are with video game. Start practicing now for Nov. 30th, the BIG day.

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  • Young Photonic Congress 2016 (2nd edition)

    Students who have completed and/or delivered research projects, classroom projects or projects from a stay in a research institute are invited to present their work in the second Young Photonic Congress at ICFO specifically geared for young people.

    Poster and oral presentations should be directly or indirectly related to light.

    More specifically, this may include the applications in some area of life such as health, energy, information, etc. or the relationship of light with matter and the range of possibilities that this interaction provides (as an example, light\'s interaction with nanomaterials, etc.)

    This objective of this event organized by ICFO is focused on inspiring the next generation of scientists and technologists to consider the amazing things that can be accomplished with Photonics.

    Registration Deadline: July, 15 2016

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  • 'DR. JOHN C. MATHER: The History of the Universe from the beginning to the end: where did we ...

    Dr. John C. Mather

    Senior Astrophysicist and is the Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.


    Where did we come from, and where are we going? I will outline the history of the universe from its early moments in the Big Bang, to the possible end. Our history is full of beneficial catastrophes, and we wouldn’t be here without them: stars explode, the Moon is formed in a giant collision with the Earth, the Earth is bombarded by asteroids and comets for hundreds of millions of years, and multiple extinction events through hot, cold, poison, and asteroid impacts cause rapid evolution of life. But here we are, our ancestors survived and thrived through it all. Now, we can tell the story, we can look for more details, and we can begin to adventure through the solar system and eventually beyond, in partnership with a new entity, artificial intelligence coupled with robotics. Scientific discovery has been propelled by competition (including war) for thousands of years, so it’s immensely important to public policy. I will illustrate with examples from NASA, including our measurements of the Big Bang, discoveries with the Hubble, and future telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope (planned for 2018 launch) and beyond. Within a few decades, we may know that life is common in the universe, or perhaps not.

    In order to attend the talk, you must Register Online at the below link.

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  • Richi Talent 2016

    A few years ago the Richi Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Barcelona and Boston, created the Richi Talent, an initiative in collaboration with MISTI Spain (MIT International Science & Technology Initiatives) that aims to identify, incentivize and support promising young people who, in the future and in different fields of science, humanities and arts, will play a crucial role in social progress. Its main objective is to awaken the vocation of the most talented Baccalaureate students through an annual competition.

    This year ICFO has teamed up with the foundation to host a talented high school student for the summer as part of the Richi Talent program. Anggie Rizo, a student from the IES Joanot Martorell of Esplugues del Llobregat, will be spending three weeks at ICFO to carry out her final school research project. Supervised by Dr. Federica Beduini, from the Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) unit, Anggie will be studying and learning optics and photonics concepts as well as developing a LED device that produces, as an outcome, light in different wavelengths or colors.

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