Stanford's Photonics Research Center holds annual meeting

Sept. 18, 2001
The annual meeting of the Stanford University Photonics Research Center (which assimilated the former Center for Novel Optoelectronic Materials) took place September 14 and 15. Don Scifres of SDL (now a JDS Uniphase Company) presented the plenary address. Stanford Professor Stephen Harris gave the keynote on slow light. Most of the other technical papers were presented by Stanford students, or former students now working in industry.

The annual meeting of the Stanford University Photonics Research Center (which assimilated the former Center for Novel Optoelectronic Materials) took place September 14 and 15. While some papers had to be withdrawn because their authors could not get to Palo Alto, substitutes were found. Had the airlines been flying, this year's meeting could have been the center's largest meeting ever.

Some speakers succeeded in coming quite a distance: Alan Willner, a professor at USC, found himself and three of his students in Florida on Tuesday 9/11/01 and drove 60 hours to give his paper on the capacity limits of high-speed multiple-wavelength systems. Mohammed Islam, a professor at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) was at the Allen, TXs office of his company, Xtera Inc. He was able to find a seat on a private jet operated by venture capitalists that had invested in his Raman amplifier company.

Don Scifres of SDL (now a JDS Uniphase Company) presented the plenary address. Stanford Professor Stephen Harris gave the keynote on slow light. Most of the other technical papers were presented by Stanford students, or former students now working in industry. Topics addressed both academic and technological issues. Krishnan Parameswaran of Stanford, for instance, described a variety of three-wave mixing devices based on periodically poled lithium-niobate waveguide technology that promise practical wavelength shifting and dispersion reversal.

As usual, many of the most interesting presentations were the student posters on research in progress, including deformable mirrors for free-space optical communications, microfrabricated solid-immersion lenses for sub-wavelength scanning, MEMS phased arrays, and biotech tools. The conference confirmed the contention of after-dinner speaker Joseph Goodman, that photonics remains a viable academic field in spite of current market and social conditions.

Mark D. Levenson, contributing editor, Laser Focus World

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