ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences


ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences is the partner of choice as Spanish point of contact in the NoE PHOTONICS4LIFE.The institute was created in 2002 by the government of Catalonia and the Technical University of Catalonia. ICFO is a center of research excellence devoted to the sciences and technologies of light. It carries out frontier research and trains the next generation of scientists and technologists. ICFO actively collaborates with many leading research centers, universities, hospitals, and a range of private companies based locally and all over the world.

ICFO currently hosts 20 research groups working in more than 50 different laboratories. Available to them are a Nanophotonics Fabrication Lab, a Super-resolution Light Microscopy & Nanoscopy Lab, an Advanced Engineering Lab and a range of other support facilities. All research groups and facilities are located in a dedicated 10.000 m2 -building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Research at ICFO encompasses four broad thematic areas: nonlinear photonics, quantum photonics, nanophotonics, and biophotonics. Our researchers work in a great variety of fields, including quantum information technologies, nanophotonic devices, remote sensors, optoelectronics, integrated optics, ultrafast optics, biophotonics, and biomedical optics. Projects are run as part of both medium- and long-term programs. ICFO performs cutting-edge research both in fundamental and applied fields. The Institute carries out world-class science and regularly publishes high-impact results in prestigious international journals. As for applied research, ICFO has registered a significant number of patents and actively promotes the creation of spin-offs by its researchers.

Currently, ICFO counts about 200 researchers, a number that is continuously growing. By 2014, when ICFO completes its ongoing expansion phase, the Institute is to count more than 300 researchers working in 25 different research groups.

Biophotonics at ICFO

In part with support from FundaciĆ³ Cellex Barcelona, ICFO has been involved in a range of activities aiming to harness the power of photonics for improving human health.

ICFO conducts research and development at the cutting-edge of biophotonics and nanophotonics, with a special focus on imaging modalities and techniques that aim at continuously breaking the limits of resolution (both spatial and temporal). Ongoing programs include a variety of advanced multiphoton and fluorescence techniques, single-molecule approaches, pioneering near-field nanoimaging, plasmonics and nanoantenna approaches, Raman imaging, photothermal imaging, and diffuse optical imaging, among others. ICFO also hosts several programs in nanosurgery, neuro-intensive care monitoring, plasmonic oncology, and dermatology.

Light for Health Program

ICFO recently created the Light for Health Program and sets it sights on bringing forward developed photonic techniques to the outside world especially in the life sciences and agro food area. ICFO collaborates with hospitals, healthcare centers, biomedical research centers, universities, medical institutes and companies, acting as the local BioPhotonics Hub. The program focuses on establishing links and joint projects between ICFO and local, as well as the international, biomedical industry organization of workshops, schools and conferences, spin-off generation and dissemination and outreach.


ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
Mediterranean Technology Park
Av Canal Olimpic s/n
Barcelona, Spain




Contact person

Prof.dr. Niek F. van Hulst