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  • Ones to Watch

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2011
IEEE Photonics Society Awards

The Young Investigator Award honors an individual who has made outstanding technical contributions to photonics prior to his or her 35th birthday. The 2011 Young Investigator is Hatice Altug, an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Boston University. She is recognized “for contributions on nanoplasmonics and integrated nanofluidics for biological sensing and spectroscopy.” According to the IEEE, Altug also is the recipient of an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Massachusetts Life Science Center New Investigator Award.

The IEEE Graduate Student Fellowship Program presents 10 awards annually to honor outstanding Photonics Society student members pursuing graduate education within the Photonics Society field of interest. The 2010 Fellows and their areas of research are:

Mohammad S. Alfiad, Eindhoven University of Technology, digital signal processing and 100-Gb/s Ethernet for long-haul fiber optic transmission systems.

Yanbo Bai, Northwestern University, high-performance quantum cascade lasers.

Koen Huybrechts, Ghent University, the realization of all-optical flip-flop devices and all-optical signal processing using single laser diodes.

Caroline P. Lai, Columbia University, cross-layer communication, impairment-aware architectures, and real-time performance monitoring for next-generation optical networks.

Dimitrios Mandridis, University of Central Florida, microwave photonics, metrology and laser development with a focus on ultralow-noise semiconductor-based lasers at low repetition rates for high-speed photonic analog-to-digital conversion.

Binh-Minh Nguyen, Northwestern University, theoretical properties of the novel quantum system.

Joris Roels, Ghent University, the mechanical actuation of nanophotonic wires (and slotted waveguides) on a silicon-on-insulator chip through attractive and repulsive optical gradient forces.

Ibrahim Murat Soganci, University of Tokyo, integrated scalable semiconductor photonic switches and their applications in large-capacity optical packet switching networks.

V.R. Supradeepa, Purdue University, methods to generate, manipulate and characterize high-repetition-rate optical frequency combs and new applications enabled by their unique properties.

Shaoliang Zhang, National University of Singapore, digital signal processing algorithms and performance analysis for coherent optical single-carrier systems.

Carolyn Schutt, a bioengineering graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla, along with labmates Michael Benchimol and Mark Hsu, is working on a method to use highly sensitive light imaging and focused light therapies deep inside the body to more effectively detect and treat breast cancer. The goal is to create a smart particle contrast agent that can bridge optical and ultrasound imaging, combining the best features of both and rendering biological tissue effectively transparent to light. Optical fluorescence imaging offers an alternative to the ionizing radiation exposure resulting from traditional mammography.

– Source: IEEE

We applaud all of you who were recognized with awards, fellowships or other prizes for your work performed between May 2010 and June 2011. Many prizes are awarded around the world, and although space will not allow us to list them all, here are a few scientists who caught our eye. We think these young people are among the ones whose work over the next decade may very well change the face of photonics – and, because photonics is everywhere, have some impact on the way we live and work.

Very Early Career Award

Cherry Canovan was awarded the 2011 Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year prize at the Institute of Physics in London. She is in the Mathematical Physics Group at Lancaster University in the UK and is affiliated with the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science, where she is working toward her doctorate creating mathematical models for optically dispersive materials. A former journalist, she covered science for the Times Educational Supplement and, spurred on by stories of too few women in physics, left her job to pursue a career in that field after the birth of her first child, according to a post on the Institute of Physics blog.

Tom Vandervelde, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., has been given an early-career award from the National Science Foundation for promising research in thermophotovoltaics. Vandervelde, the John A. and Dorothy Adams Faculty Development Professor, will use the five-year, $400,000 prize to continue his studies on cells that convert thermal energy into electricity. His research has implications for a new class of green technologies.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Award

Alberto Bilenca, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, was awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a fast, low-cost device to accurately diagnose malaria without the need for blood collection in field settings. Bilenca’s project is based on a standard cell phone camera and a red laser pointer that can noninvasively obtain finger blood perfusion images with excellent resolution and contrast in less than 1 s. It uses the principles of optical polarization/speckle and cell phone technology built into a portable probe to create images that detect malaria pigment (hemozoin crystals) in blood as well as micro-obstructions in the circulatory system that result from the infection.

SPIE 2011 Young Investigator

David Wegner was presented the SPIE 2011 Young Investigator Award, sponsored by Ocean Optics Inc. of Dunedin, Fla. The award was presented to the researcher – no more than five years out of school – who wrote the best juried paper submitted to the “Colloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications VI” session of the 2011 BiOS/SPIE Photonics West conference, which was held in January. Wegner, part of a research team at the University of Potsdam in Germany that included Daniel Geissler and Hans-Gerd Löhmannsröben, was honored for his work as lead author of “Time-resolved and steady-state FRET spectroscopy on commercial biocompatible quantum dots.” Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is a mechanism describing energy transfer between chromophores. Wegner’s adviser is professor Niko Hildebrandt of Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research in Potsdam.

Lemelson-MIT Student Prizes

Benjamin Clough, a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., received the Lemelson-MIT Rensselaer Student Prize for developing a method for extending the distance from which terahertz sensors can remotely detect hidden explosives, chemicals and other dangerous materials. Working at the Rensselaer Center for Terahertz Research, Clough demonstrated the use of sound waves to remotely “listen” to terahertz signals from a distance.

Zheng Guoan, a graduate student at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, received the Lemelson-MIT Caltech Student Prize for the development of a simple, cost-effective, high-resolution on-chip instrument, the subpixel-resolving optofluidic microscope. Suitable for use in biological research, the technology enables more affordable clinical and field diagnostics, which may lead to improved diagnostics for malaria and other blood-borne diseases in the developing world.

Hugo Geiger Prize

Georg Hackenberg of Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology received a first-place Hugo Geiger Prize from Fraunhofer Gesellschaft for developing a multitouch interface that uses a 3-D camera system to recognize gestures down to the movements of each finger and then processes them in real time. This represents a significant advance in gesture recognition technology because precise hand movements and signals play such an integral part in human gestural communication. Hackenberg’s invention reportedly has stirred great interest in the media and among industry partners.

Receives Fellowship

Fiorenzo G. Omenetto, PhD, a professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts University School of Engineering in Medford, Mass., and adjunct professor of physics in the School of Arts and Sciences, has received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His laboratory has pioneered the use of silk as a material platform for photonics, optoelectronics and high-technology applications and is actively investigating novel applications that rely on this new technology base. The award will support Omenetto’s efforts to demonstrate the first implantable and fully bioresorbable optical and electronic components that seamlessly integrate into living tissue.

quantum dots
Also known as QDs. Nanocrystals of semiconductor materials that fluoresce when excited by external light sources, primarily in narrow visible and near-infrared regions; they are commonly used as alternatives to organic dyes.  
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