Frank Smyth & William Oppermann, Pilot Photonics; Leo Clancy, Enterprise Ireland; and Denise Sidhu, Kernel Capital

Kernel Capital invests €1.8m in Pilot Photonics

DCU spin-out's ‘comb laser’ technology used in telecoms, automotive, aerospace and energy markets
Frank Smyth & William Oppermann, Pilot Photonics; Leo Clancy, Enterprise Ireland; and Denise Sidhu, Kernel Capital

25 March 2022

Kernel Capital, through The Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund II, has invested €1.8 million investment in Dublin City University (DCU) spin-out Pilot Photonics.

The science of light, photonics is used in manufacturing, medical devices, telecoms, security and even for scanning grocery items. Pilot Photonics have developed novel ‘comb laser’ technology using its patented ‘gain switching’ technique that allows it to generate and manipulate waves of light with exceptional precision and effectively creates multiple lasers from a single device. 

Combining this technology with state-of-the-art semiconductor processing known as photonic integration, Pilot’s devices are suitable for mass production and offer performance, size, cost, power, and stability advantages over traditional single wavelength lasers. Application markets include telecoms, automotive, aerospace and energy.  




Pilot Photonics’ technology is based on 10 years of research and development undertaken at DCU, Trinity College Dublin and Tyndall National Institute in Cork, and is led by chief technology officer and co-founder Frank Smyth and chief executive officer William Oppermann. 

Oppermann is the founder of Kernel Capital portfolio company MPSTOR, which was successfully sold to Sanmina in 2016. Smyth co-founded the company and has served as an expert reviewer in photonics and optical communication for the European Commission.

“Ireland was early to recognise the importance of photonics and has invested heavily in photonics R&D for more than 25 years,” said Leo Clancy, chief executive, Enterprise Ireland. “Pilot Photonics is leveraging that state investment in early-stage R&D to create advanced technology products with global potential.”

Denise Sidhu, partner at Kernel Capital, added: “The world we know today would not exist without photonics and the influence of the technology will grow even further as it converges with advances in Artificial Intelligence, delivering new applications across a broad spectrum of markets including telecoms, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.”

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