CLEO/QELS & PhAST shows "can do" research attitude

May 16, 2008--In the Wednesday morning, May 7th CLEO/QELS Joint Plenary Session, the importance of a "can do" attitude for any researcher was summed up well by Ursula Keller, head of research for the Institute for Quantum Electronics at ETH Zurich who was presented the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize for her contributions to the development of ultrafast lasers and semiconductor mode locking.

May 16, 2008--In the Wednesday morning, May 7th CLEO/QELS Joint Plenary Session, the importance of a "can do" attitude for any researcher was summed up well by Ursula Keller, head of research for the Institute for Quantum Electronics at ETH Zurich who was presented the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize for her contributions to the development of ultrafast lasers and semiconductor mode locking.

When Keller moved from Switzerland to Stanford University for research, she was energized by the spirit at Stanford: "Nobody said I can't do it," she told the crowd, and added, "Consider doing science and having a family--you can do it, just try harder!"

This same "can do" spirit was also evidenced in the Monday evening CLEO Plenary presentation by University of Florida physics professor David Reitze, spokesperson of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration (www.ligo.org). While you could argue that the ultimate detection of gravity waves (a tremendous feat in itself) won't solve world hunger, the technology being developed to measure such small parameters with the world's largest interferometer, such as large-scale vibration isolation and ultra-smooth optical surfaces, will likely contribute to many emerging applications in a variety of industries.

The excitement of exploring new frontiers is what photonics is all about, and could be seen on the faces of the New Focus Student Award entrants that sat just in front of me during the Wednesday Plenary while Ian Walmsley, Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Oxford, uniquely delivered his presentation "Meet the Fock States: The Photon Revisited." Rather than a dry technical presentation, Walmsley delivered his message in a unique format: a collection of videos interspersed in his presentation of college students contemplating the complexity of signal and herald photons in a quantum entanglement scenario. To the question of whether or not photons are real, Walmsley's video actors could only say, "Do you want another beer?"

For a more in-depth review of the 2008 CLEO/QELS & PhAST conference, see the May 15th issue of the Optoelectronics Report eNewsletter, or www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/328851.

To view a video recap of the Laser Focus World/PhAST Innovation Awards ceremony including onsite interviews with all the winning entrants, please visit www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/327566.

The 2009 CLEO and the International Quantum Electronics Conference (IQEC, which replaces QELS every 5 years), or CLEO/IQEC & PhAST, is scheduled for 5/31 to 6/5 in Baltimore, MD.

Gail Overton

More in Research