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Jun 23

By Guest Blogger, Liu Yuxiang

So much went on a CLEO:14! Here are two highlights.


Sang Min, National Institutes of Technology (NIST), discussed scanning probe imaging based on a cavity optomechanical sensors (SF2M.7) and the images were compared with conventional AFM images. This work shows great potential for on-chip AFM devices, which have a footprint of tens of microns and are fully compatible with silicon micro-/nanophotonic devices.


Prof. Bolger Schmidt, University of California, Santa Cruz, discussed recent progress of microfluidics based photonic devices and hybrid integration of electro-opto-fluidic devices (AF2L.4). Particularly, reconfigurable optofluidic devices can simultaneously manipulate and sense micro/nanoparticles. In addition, nanopores in microfluidic chips have been used to carry out single nanoparticle sensing down to the size of 30 nm.


Jun 14

By Howard Lee

The poster sessions that I have attended over last 3 days at CLEO have been great (the only recommendation I might add is that it would have been really nice  if they taken place closer towards the end of the day). The quality of the posters are very high, I enjoyed them immensely.

Another important highlight of the conference today was the postdeadline session where scientists present their latest and most impressive results in a 10 minute time frame. Here are a few that I heard:

Optical Broadband Angular Selectivity (JTH5B.2)

Yichen Shen from MIT presented their results on achieving broadband angular selectivity of light. The principle behind is to use the generalized Brewster angle by making 1D photonic crystal (multilayer structure made with SiO2 and Ta2O5) with different periodicity. He showed that a complete transparency of the structure at only one angle and the light reflects at other angles. The works are published at Science 343, 1499 (2014).

Silicon-Chip Mid-Infrared Frequency Comb Generation (STH5C.6)

Researcher from Cornell presented a first on-chip integrated mid-infrared frequency comb with 750nm-wide comb centered at 2.6um. Due to the large nonlinear loss of silicon from the three-photon absorption followed by free carrier generation, it was typically difficult to generate an efficient comb at mid-infrared region using silicon waveguide. The design of silicon waveguides with a ring resonator embedded in a PIN structure significantly reduce the free carrier lifetimes and allow the generation of mid-infrared frequency comb for the first time (see figure below).

Silicon-Chip Mid-Infrared Frequency Comb Generation

(Top) Optical microscope image of ring resonator with metal contacts and false colored SEM image of the silicon waveguide, doped regions, and metal contacts. Inset: simulated optical mode at 2.6 um, showing highconfinement. (Bottom) FTIR scans showing the full extent of the MIDIR frequency comb (corrected for the filters spectral response). [STH5C.6]

Gain from Helium-Xenon Discharges in Hollow Optical Fibres at 3 to 3.5 um (STh5C.10)

Researchers from Bath University discussed the first detected gain on laser transition in hollow core photonic crystal fiber gas discharges. They used an anti-resonant guided hollow core fiber for this discharge experiment as this fiber allow good transmission in IR range. They used fiber with length between 0.5-1m and high DC voltage up to 40kV to discharge the Helium-Xenon gas inside the fiber. They observed strong emission line from the discharge and found that the emission was stronger with longer fiber length, indicting the presence of net gain from the discharge. Their goal of the project is to make the first electrically excited fibre-based gas laser.

Gain from Helium-Xenon Discharges in Hollow Optical Fibres at 3 to 3.5 um Experimental setup. b) Signal in a 20 nm bandwidth at 3.5 μm, with discharge current 0.25 mA at 12 mbar pressure, for different lengths Inset: Optical micrograph of the fibre. Spectra for 1 m length (solid) and 0.5 m length (dashed) discharges with a discharge current of 0.25 mA and 20 nm resolution. (STh5C.10).

This has really been an enriching experience with great research in a number of areas.  I look forward to seeing everyone next year, 10-15 May 2015.

Jun 12

By Howard Lee

I was happy to spend most of my time today at several CLEO events; Plenary talk, technical talks, poster session and market focus. This morning’s Plenary session  was on the topic “Fibres and the future” by David Payne. Prof. Payne  gave a great overview on the works of fiber amplifier. Using cladding-pumped microsturctured fiber, amplifier with high output power at telecommunication wavelength or IR can be realized. Prof. Payne also suggested an idea that these kinds of fiber-laser would be designed as a powerful laser for next accelerator for CERN! This idea may be realized by using array of fiber lasers combined with multicore fibers to confine to a high power output laser and finally delivery by hollow core bandgap fiber.

I also attended another nice tutorial talk in the morning given by Prof. Nikolay Zheludev (University of Southampton) on “Optical Properties on Demand: Reconfigurable and Coherently Controlled Metamaterials” (FW1K.1). Prof. Zheludev starts his presentation by comparing the citation number between metamaterial and laser (when it was starts invented in 1962), showing the rapid development on the field of metamaterial since 2000 (see figure below). He then pointed out the importance of developing tunable and reconfigurable metamaterials, in which would allow precise control of electromagnetic responses of the materials at nanometer scale. He presented several new materials of metamaterials (e.g., grapheme, nitride, conducting oxide, silicon and topological insulator) and tunable mechanisms studied by his group and other groups. One particular important example of reconfigurable metamaterial he presented is utilizing electromagnetic force (Lorentz force) to functionalize the metadevice (see structure below). Finally, he mentioned three “killer applications” which metamaterials would potential take place: 1) tunable lasing spaser, 2) mobile dynamic 3D display and 3) space division multiplexing in fiber networks. After the talk, I talked to Prof. Zheludev and asked him how would we keep growing the field of metamaterial and impacting our life using metamaterial as what the laser can do. He said that everyone working in this field (metmaterials) should work hard and one day we will see the high impact of metamaterials.

The next photonic revolution: Metamaterials

(Images: Courtesy of Nikolay Zheludev) (FW1K.1)

The MarketFocus: The Future of “Enabling” Photonics Innovation at 2-4pm today is an interesting event. As mentioned in the previous posts by Shamsul Arafin, there are a lot of discussions on how to enable photonics technology, including the support required from industry, academic university and government. To summarize the event, the chair Jason Eichenholz (CEO, Open Photonics Inc) asked the panel speakers what will be most important area of photonics for the next 15 years. Different speakers have different opinions, but  health care, security, energy recourses (e.g. solar energy), vision (sensing, imaging) and environmental issue (e.g. clean water) are the top  areas where they think photonics can play a high impact role in the near future. Nevertheless, the government support is one of the most important issues on enabling photonic innovation.

By the way, if you are OSA student, I suggest you to have a look at the OSA student membership booth. What they (OSA) provide you is the set of “big bang theory” where you can get some coffee, relax a bit or even play table tennis on the optical table. Also, there are some free OSA T.shirts and Newport snacks. So I hope you get the chance to check it out!

The OSA Student Lounge

Two more days to go till the end of CLEO conference; so take your time to learn as much as you can  these last two days!




Jun 12

By Sheng Liu

Note: Most of the following materials are cited from the material distributed in the meeting

On June 2, 2014, Department of Defense (DoD) announced a Request for Information (RFI) Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation, RFI-RQKM-2014-0022.

The DoD wishes to consider input from Industry and Academia as part of an effort to select and scope the technology focus areas for future Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs). These IMIs will be regionally centered Public Private Partnerships enabling the scale-up of advanced manufacturing technologies and processes with the goal of successful transition of existing science and technology into the marketplace for both Defense and commercial applications. Each Institute will be led by a not-for-profit organization and focus on one technology area. The Department is requesting responses which will assist in the selection of a technology focus area from those currently under consideration, based upon evidence of national security requirement, economic benefit, technical opportunity, relevance to industry, business case for sustainability, and workforce challenge.

The Technical Focus Areas currently under consideration are:

  • Flexible Hybrid Electronics
  • Photonics
  • Engineered Nanomaterials
  • Fiber and Textiles
  • Electronic Packaging and Reliability
  • Aerospace Composites

Therefore, optics and photonics will be competing directly with other technology areas for a possible DoD-sponsored IMI.

The opportunity to form a new IMI for photonics would benefit the entire industry by focusing federal and private sector investment and innovation through collaboration. The DoD is committing $70 million in federal funds with a minimum 1:1 non-federal cost share. Securing an IMI would confirm the importance of optics and photonics to the future of American manufacturing and the American work force, and it would continue to reinforce the foundational role of optics and photonics in virtually all sectors of the economy.

Therefore, active responses from optics and photonics communities to RFI is very important!!!

THz Science and Spectroscopy

While THz spectroscopy has served as an extremely useful tool for probing carrier dynamics for decades, it still surprises us today how far THz technology can extend to. There are two sections that researches presented their work on the generation of strong THz field (SW1F) and how THz are used for spectroscopy and sensing (SW3F).
Rupert Huber group from University of Regensburg continue surprises us how the strong THz pulses (multiple 10 MV/cm) can perturb electronic structure. After publishing the work of using 72 MV//cm THz pulse to drive coherent interband polarization combined with dynamical Bloch oscillations in semiconducting gallium selenide (generating phase-stable high-harmonic transients, covering the entire terahertz-to-visible spectral domain between 0.1 and 675 THz), today they present photoluminescence of GaAs driven by THz pulses which is only 1/400 photon energy of the bandgap of GaAs.

THz Science and Spectroscopy
(this figure comes from

Tobias Kampfrath from Fritz Haber Institute reviewed the progress of strong THz radiation resonantly and sensitively probing electron transport, spin precession and ion vibration in solids in the past few years. Strong THz radiation indeed serves as a powerful tool for us to explore the most fundamental physics.

Jun 12

Since it’s a topic that’s close to my heart, I enjoy the opportunity to see the latest work on semiconductor lasers whenever I come to CLEO. As always, I have been very impressed by all the work I’ve seen. And here I’d just like to highlight a couple of the many very impressive talks on this topic.

(a) Optical microscope image of the half-wave coupled rectangular ring-FP laser; (b) single mode emission with 44.5dB SMSR (Wu et al., CLEO 2014, STH1G.1).

(a) Optical microscope image of the half-wave coupled rectangular ring-FP laser; (b) single mode emission with 44.5dB SMSR (Wu et al., CLEO 2014, STH1G.1).

One that struck me is work out of Zhejiang University in China. The standard for tunable diode lasers is typically distributed Bragg reflector edge emitting lasers, and they’re remarkable devices. They’re capable of producing single-mode lasers with high side mode suppression, and, using some special tricks, can be tuned over a very wide bandwidth. The researchers at Zhejiang University, however, are taking a different approach. By coupling a ring resonator to a Fabry-Perot cavity, they get excellent wavelength selectivity (up to 41 dB of SMSR). In addition, they can selectively tune the device over a very wide bandwidth, achieving 50 channels on a 50 GHz spacing. It looks like a very interesting alternative to the conventional device.

Schematic of the device, (b) SEM picture of the first-order 50% duty cycle sidewall gratings with a 0.6 μm recess and λ/4 shift, (c) the MMI output side (Hou et al., CLEO 2014, STH1G.4).

Schematic of the device, (b) SEM picture of the first-order 50% duty cycle sidewall gratings with a 0.6 μm recess and λ/4 shift, (c) the MMI output side (Hou et al., CLEO 2014, STH1G.4).

Another interesting talk came out of University of Glasgow in the UK. These researchers have taking steps to monolithically scale up diode laser brightness. In order to do so, they have fabricated a DFB laser along with optical amplifiers. What’s special is that they’ve included intermediately a small tree of MMI splitters, so that an array of amplifiers exists at the device output. As a result, they get a coherently phased array with narrow divergence in the array direction and increased total power. The researchers demonstrated a four-element array, but they expressed hope for scaling up to even larger arrays in the near future. The nice thing is this sort of technology is scalable, and although there are some practical limits, there really aren’t any show-stopping fundamental limits to getting up to very high brightness sources.

These are just a couple of the remarkable talks on recent work in semiconductor lasers. Seeing as how fundamentally important diode lasers are to optical communications, sensing, research, and many other fields, it’s great to see the continued progress in this field.

Disclaimer: Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Government and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Jun 12

By Shamsul Arafin

On the Wednesday morning, CLEO 2014 started with an excellent plenary talk on Fibers and the Future given by the inventor of erbium-doped fiber amplifier, David Payne (University of Southampton, UK), which featured the recent advancements and developments of optical fibers and its associated technologies such as fiber lasers, modulators, detectors or its relevant applications in telecoms and sensing. In his presentation, he showed different type of novel fiber design concepts including multielement fiber, multi-core fibers, anti-resonant hollow core fibers and the pros and cons of each design in terms of the transmission capacity, cross-talk noise reduction capability and suitability of interconnection technologies.

After the Plenary Session, CLEO: Market Focus program continued like yesterday which provided a platform to discuss about Operational Strategies for the Laser and Photonics Industry. The session, conducted by, Scott Dunbar, (Chief Operating Officer, AdValue Photonics, USA), started with a reasonable number of audiences and primarily addressed four successful companies’ operational strategies which are mainly based on in-house vs external manufacturing and on-shore vs. off-shore manufacturing. The first presentation was made by Mark Holman (A.T. Kearney, USA), covering the value-chain, levels and abilities in outsourcing/off-shore manufacturing for the photonic components, the unique challenges to realize such components due to the necessity of sophisticated cleanroom/fabrication facilities, high-skilled workers, qualities, etc. compared to standard electronics as well as the best practices to ensure corporate success. The next speaker, Nat Mani (CEO, Bestronics, USA) described the merits and demerits of contract manufacturer (CM) vs original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and explained how his company has become successful out of in-house/ on-shore manufacturing strategies. Then Kurt Weingarten (JDSU, Switzerland) introduced the strategies for his Time-Bandwidth products, a provider of high-powered and ultrafast lasers for the industrial and scientific markets. Finally, Andrew Willse (Director of Director of DPSS operations, Coherent, USA) described the effectiveness of outsourcing/off-shore manufacturing strategies by introducing several operational best practices for a successful Dual-Factory implementation.

Look for more  information on hot topic research tomorrow.

Jun 11

In a recent Physics Today article, Mohammad Hafezi and Jacob Taylor reviewed their recent work on creating topological insulators for light (Physics Today, May 2014, p. 68, One of the great things about CLEO is that this sort of cutting-edge research is commonly part of the program. And never failing to please, this year’s conference featured a couple of talks on this novel topic in photonic science.

First, let me review just a little bit about topological insulators as I understand them using (as Hafezi and Taylor did) the canonical example of the quantum Hall effect. The system under study is a two-dimensional material containing charged particles. If one applies a magnetic field perpendicular to the sheet, this will cause the particles to undergo circular orbits in the plane. In the center of the material, particles complete their orbits and globally remain stationary; the result is that there is no net transfer of charge and the material is insulating. However, something remarkable happens at the edges: the particles are unable to undergo a full rotation before ramming into a material wall. Then, instead of orbiting in place, the particle bounces off the wall and begins another partial rotation in the same direction. As a result, the particle hops along the edge of the material, and the effect is that there is charge transport and, therefore, a current. What you’re left with is a material that is insulating on the interior and conducting along the edges. The remarkable thing is that now researchers have observed this effect using photonics, and in more way that one!

In one realization presented at the conference, researchers from Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Friedrich-Schiller-Universitat Jena created a periodic array of helically shaped waveguides. The analog of photons propagating down the array of helical waveguides is electrons evolving in time in a lattice of circulating atoms. In this rotating frame, the result is similar to that described above: propagation in the bulk of the material is prohibited, whereas there are propagating states allowed at the edges. The talk gave many examples of how this worked and what could be done with it. For example, in a honeycomb lattice, there are types of edges that allow edges states and some that don’t. However, when the helical waveguides are used, the usually “non-conducting” edges begin to allow the propagation of light. What’s even more remarkable is that light that transits from one edge type to another at a corner does so without scattering; instead it just makes the 90-degree turn an continues its propagation. This is just a taste of some of the remarkable results discussed in this talk, and more can be found in the CLEO abstract and their recent publication (Rechtsman et al., Nature, vol. 496, p. 196, 2013).

The other topological insulator talk I had the privilege of seeing was given by a member of the group that published the Physics Today article. In their work, they realize a topological insulator by utilizing a 2D array of coupled ring resonators. As they note in their article, the important property that they honed in on is that the path length of light traveling in a clockwise direction should be different from that traveling counterclockwise. To achieve this, they made oblong ring resonators, rotated neighboring rings 90 degrees with respect to one another, and offset them from center. The result is that light traveling in one direction take a long-arm path, whereas the short path is taken in the other direction. By using such an arrangement, they showed that edge states can be excited by operating at the correct frequency where bulk propagation is disallowed. In addition, due to the path length asymmetry, propagation in different directions is excited at different frequencies. A very exciting result to be sure. Again, I’m certain I can’t do justice to all the remarkable results, but one can see their CLEO abstract or their recent publication (Hafezi et al., Nature Photonics, vol. 7, p. 1001, 2013).

To my knowledge, these are the only two demonstrations of photonic topological insulators to date. However, this is a very new and exciting field; the theory for photonic topological insulators is less than a decade old. It’s remarkable how quickly these experimental results have been realized. I’m sure we can look forward to even more exciting results in the near future, and I look forward to it.

Disclaimer: Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Government and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Jun 11

By Howard Lee

Today is a great day start with two plenary sessions from Gerhard Rempe and Larry Coldren, followed by whole afternoon of technical sessions, conference reception and poster sessions in the evening.

To conclude what I found exciting in the technology session and posters, I highlighted some of the works in the following.

Step forward to compact plasmonic nanocircuit

Prof. Min-Kyo Seo from KAIST talked about their work from Prof. Mark Brongersma at Stanford University on making an electrically driven plasmonic nanocirucit. They experimentally demonstrated an electrical pumped plasmonic light-emitting diode (LED)(emitting from a semiconductor quantum well) which is directly integrated to a plasmonic slot waveguide circuit with different functionalities such as splitting, freespace coupling and directional coupling. Although the efficiencies of the electrical driven LED and the coupling from the LED source to the plasmonic waveguide are not high (with coupling efficient of ~ 10 % to the waveguide) and the light source is not coherent, the work is an important step forward for future plasmonic circuit where the light source is electrically generated directly in the nanocircuit. Their result is published in March issue of Nature Photonics. (STu1M)[Nature Photonics 8, 244 (2014)].

Step forward to compact plasmonic nanocircuit
(Left) Schematic showing an integrated, electrically driven optical nanocircuit composed of three-dimensional slot-waveguide components, including two ultracompact splitters, a directional coupler and slot antennas. (Right) The nano-LED, with the quantum well located between the two red arrows. (STu1M)[Nature Photonics 8, 244 (2014)].

Poster Sessions: Broadband epsilon-near-zero metamaterials with gain media

Dr. Sun from Missouri University of Science and Technology discussed their theoretical work to me on designing a broadband epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) material (JTu4A.33). Their design of ENZ material based on a step-like metal-dielectric multilayer structures (see figure below) and he also discussed the use of gain material to obtain a broadband ENZ material with relative low loss. Although the structure is extremely difficult to fabricate (or even impossible), the work show an interesting approach to achieve a broadband ENZ material which would be useful for designing low loss metamaterial. Sun said that they are further working on the design of such ENZ metamaterial using step-like arrangement of nanoparticles, which would open up an easier and more realistic way for fabrication such material.

Broadband epsilon-near-zero metamaterials with gain media
(Left) Schematics of the proposed broadband ENZ meta-atoms. (Right) The simulation retrieved effective permittivity of the single gain meta-atom (solid curves) and the single non-gain meta-atom (dashed curves).[JTu4A.33]

Check back tomorrow to hear about more exciting highlights at CLEO: 2014.


Jun 11

By Shamsul Arafin

The third day of CLEO: 2014 started with the Honorary Award Distribution Ceremony which was followed by Plenary Sessions, consisting of two talks. The first one was on Quantum Coherent Networks, presented by Gerhard Rempe from Max-Planck-Institut fur Quantenoptik, Germany. Rempe’s talk initially covered the fundamentals of quantum-coherent networks, an exciting but challenging field of science and technology which allows a new approach to the processing of information for long-distance quantum communication and large-scale quantum simulation applications. He then described how Fabry-Perot cavity quantum electrodynamics with single-atoms trapped in high-finesse optical resonators could be employed for the realization of such quantum networks. The second talk, titled as Photonic Integrated Circuits as Key Enablers for Datacom, Telecom and Sensor Systems, given by Larry A. Coldren from UC-Santa Barbara, USA, addressed that why PICs are desirable for modest to high volume communication, sensing and instrumentation functions, where size, weight, power and cost are of major concerns.


Audience attending CLEO symposium


The special symposium on Laser Processing for Consumer Electronics included an invited talk from Keiji Nomaru, Disco Corporation, Japan that addressed the use of lasers in their semiconductor manufacturing process, such as grinding, cutting and polishing. In his presentation, he discussed the benefits of utilizing ultrafast lasers in the processing and microfabrication of the sapphire wafers with a precise process depth-control and a good cutting-surface quality. Also, Manjusha Mahendale from Rudolph Technologies, USA drew a crowd with her invited talk on Opaque Film Metrology using picosecond ultrasonic laser sonar (PULSE) Technology that is currently being used for the thickness and density evaluation of metal and opaque films as well as for the characterization of multi-layer bumps in advanced packaging applications.

On tap tomorrow, more symposiums and another great plenary.

CLEO: 2014 is being held 8-13 June 2014 in San Jose, CA.



Jun 10

By Howard Lee

The second half of my day was spent hearing more interesting talks and ended on a high note with the reminder that we are all “sitting on the shoulders of giants.” Here is a summary of this afternoon’s great experience:

Titanium Nitride (TiN), new material for thermophotovotaics

To enhance the efficiency of thermo-photovoltaics, the loss of the unusable photons (low energy photon which lower than the bandgap of the photovoltaics) need to be minimized and the operational temperatures need to keep high (~1500°C) for enhancing the power output, thus the emitter needed to convert the input thermal energy into the emission above the band-gap of photovoltaic cells. In the talks of Dr. Urcan Guler and Jingjing Liu (FM4C.5, FM4C.8)(both from the groups of Alexandra Boltasseva and Vladimir Shalaev at Purdue university), they presented the use of TiN material to make a ultra-thin plasmonic thermal emitter. The selective emitter they demonstrated shows high emittance around 2.5 μm and shorter wavelengths, and suppresses emittance at longer wavelengths (while working at high temperature of 830K)(figure below). As discussed by Guler, such high melting temperature TiN (melting temperature of 2950 degree celsius)(together with metallic properties and high absorption) would be potentially be used for the field of thermo-photonvotaics applications and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) where high temperature environment are required.

Titanium Nitride (TiN), new material for thermophotovotaicsFig. 1. (a) Absorption of TiN metamaterial absorber and radiance of TiN selective emitter giv en along with solar irradiance and emission from a blackbody at 1500 oC. Dashed orange lines show the bandgap energies of several thermophotovoltaic semiconductors. (b) Metamaterial broadband absorber design (top) given with SEM images of TiN (left) and Au (right) samples after thermal testing at 800 oC for 1 hour. [FM4C.5, FM4C.8]

The last event I attended is the “Special Symposium in Memory of James P. Gordon”. It is a really amazing event with three Nobel Prize winners (Steven Chu, Arno Penzias and Charles ToChuwnes) and five invited speakers to speak about the personal life, scientific achievement and scientific attitude of James Gordon. The symposium started with the introductions of James Gordon by his wife (Susanna Gordon) and daughter, followed by his colleges and friends. As mention by the speakers, James Gordon was one of their smartest colleague/friends, but he is also one of the most humble person. The most amazing I found is that he did so many significant achievements in various fields of science, starting from the development of MASER (“Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”), followed by the investigation of optical trapping and optical fiber solitons.  I was grateful to able to attend this symposium hearing all of these talks about such an admired scientist.

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