The Photonics Prototyping Facility

Creating and strengthening SA enterprises in photonics

The Photonics Prototyping Facility provides world-class facilities, technical support, equipment and scarce skills to help industrialise photonics-based technologies. It acts as the catalyst to build a globally competitive photonics industry in South Africa.

The PPF invites scientists, engineers, industries, entrepreneurs and investors to collaborate with us on photonics-related prototype development. Contact Dr Darryl Naidoo (ppf@csir.co.za) for additional information or to arrange a viewing of the facility.

About photonics

Being the science of light, photonics is a research field that aims to generate, manipulate and detect photons (particles of light). It is an essential component of everyday technologies from lighting sources such as lasers, LEDs, to telecommunications and information processing, as well as medical instruments. Just as the invention of the transistor and integrated circuits revolutionised the 20th century with electronics, the invention of the laser and optical fibres is at the centre of the next technology revolution. The 21st century is becoming the era for photonics.

Bridging the gap

South Africa has a miniscule market share (~0.3%) of the global photonics market with its projected market value of over 600 billion Euros in 2020. One of the major contributing factors is that photonics technologies and innovations are not commercialised or prototyped. The barriers to cross this chasm are a lack of skilled manpower (scientific and business expertise needed to industrialise technologies) and a lack of funding (to develop the necessary infrastructure and facilities).

The Photonics Prototyping Facility addresses this problem by providing world-class facilities, technical support, equipment and scarce skills, to assist in industrialising these untapped technologies.

The facility is located at the CSIR, an innovative research environment, and is in close proximity to several universities. The PPF is funded by the Department of Science and Technology.

Progress and early successes

Outcomes and progress to date include the development of a miniaturised laser system for laser range-finding applications for a military client. 

Call for participation: Photonics prototyping facility

Photonics prototyping facility (PPF) Charter [PDF]


The Photonics Prototyping Facility (PPF) is aiming to address the current lack of commercialised photonics products within South Africa by providing world-class facilities, technical support and scarce skills.