Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO)


The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) is a young research institution that aims to advance the very limits of knowledge in Photonics, namely the science and technology of harnessing Light.

Light, especially laser light, is one of the major enabling technologies currently available to humankind. Our research thrusts target the global forefront of photonics and aim to tackle important challenges faced by society at large. The research groups focus on current and future problems in health, energy, information, safety, security and caring for the environment.

Excellence and recognition awards
  • In 2018: awarded with the “Extraordinary PhD Thesis Award” to two PhD graduates with the.
  • In 2018: awarded with the “Durán Farell” award to Jordi Martorell for technological research.
  • In 2017: awarded with the GEFES Prize for Best Experimental Thesis to Dr. Achim Woessner for best thesis in Condensed Matter Physics.
  • In 2017: awarded with the RSEF FUNDACIÓN BBVA 2017 Medal to ICFO Prof. Maciej Lewenstein.
  • In 2017: recognized with the “Best of the Best” publication to the PhD graduate Dr. Jordi Tura for his outstanding PhD research by Springer.
  • In 2017: awarded with the “Manuel Rico” Bruker National Prize to Prof. María García-Parajo for Biophysics.
  • In 2017: awarded with the Prize for Fundamental Aspects of Quantum Electronics and Optics to Prof. Niek van Hulst by the European Physical Society.
  • In 2016: awarded with the “Paul Ehrenfest” Best Paper Award to the ICFO researchers for Algorithmic Pseudorandomness in Quantum Setups.
  • Awarded with a Starting Grant to Prof. Simon Wall to establish himself as independent research leader by European Research Consortium (ERC).
  • Awarded with the 1st Banc Sabadell Foundation Award to the ICREA Prof. Romain Quidant for Science and Engineering.
  • Awarded with the Salvà i Campillo Award to Lluís Torner for leadership of ICFO by the Catalan Association of Engineers and COEINF.
  • Awarded with the Vanguard Award for Science to Hugues de Riedmatten’s work on the first hybrid quantum information network.
Director of the center
Lluís Torner

Lluís Torner

  • Degree in Physics by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), PhD in Physics (Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC) and UPC professor. 
  • Founding of ICFO in 2002 and director since then.
  • Advisor for public and private entities from different countries of Europe, USA, Canada and Australia.
  • Award of the Monturiol Medal for Scientific Merit in 2009; the Leadership Prize of the Optical Society of America in 2011; the Catalan National Prize for Research in 2016 and the Nature Mentoring Award in 2017. 
Renowned researcher

Carlos Abellán

  • Telecom engineer and PhD in Photonics from ICFO. Author and coauthor of +10 publications and patents on quantum technologies.
  • Selected on the 2018 Europe edition of the MIT Innovators 35 Under 35.
  • Active on dissemination of science and technology. Examples include: TEDx IESEBarcelona, Pint of Science, Investigación y Ciencia, or IEEE Spectrum.
  • Cofounder and CEO of Quside (spin-off from ICFO) working on quantum technologies. Cofounder also of Finboot, a Blockchain-based startup.
  • Instigated the Big Bell test project in 2016, a world-wide quantum physics experiment that attracted +100,000 participants via a videogame.
The project

Quantum physics challenges our intuition, but at the same time allows us to understand our world and develop some important technologies of the present (like lasers, LEDs and transistors) and astonishing technologies of the future (like quantum computers and communications).

Quantum physics challenges our most basics intuitions, yet it provides astonishingly accurate predictions on the behavior of matter and energy on the scale of atoms and below. Without it, we wouldn’t have developed useful technologies, such as lasers, LEDs and transistors. Many more are about to come, such as quantum computers, as we are at the beginning of a quantum technological revolution.