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Optical Chip Innovation Transferred to Industry

Photonics.com
May 2013
SYDNEY, May 21, 2013 — An optics innovation that enables researchers to vary how light is split on optical chips has been transferred from the University of Sydney to Finisar, creating a wave of sales for the Waterloo, Australia-based company.

Dr. Jochen Schroeder created the new light-shaping function for Finisar’s WaveShaper programmable optical processors. The technology could be particularly useful for researchers and developers of optical communication systems, enabling more thorough system testing and reduced development time for optical components and systems.

“The processor is a computer programmable optical filter that can shape light,” said Schroeder, a postdoctoral researcher from the university’s School of Physics and CUDOS, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems. “It can, for example, compress incoming light pulses to become very short, or shape an incoming 'rainbow' of light into an output that is only made up of red and blue light.”


Dr. Jochen Schroeder (right) of the University of Sydney and Dr. Michaël Roelens (left) of Finisar work on the new WaveShaper programmable optical processor, which can split light in extremely sophisticated ways. Courtesy of the University of Sydney.

The technology — for which Schroeder received an Innovation Prize from CUDOS — makes the liquid crystal on silicon optical chips within the processor act as multiple optical circuits — similar to circuit boards in traditional electronics.

“The new technique allows for four optical fiber outputs on each optical chip, creating reconfigurable light outputs,” he said. “This innovation has extended the use of the WaveShaper product to permit the development of the next generation of telecommunications systems as well as enabling the company to address additional markets in research laboratories.”

“This sort of successful technology transfer creates wealth in Sydney, which is incredibly important for both researchers and high-tech industry here,” said CUDOS Director Ben Eggleton, who has fostered collaborations between the center and Finisar over the past seven years.

WaveShaper is originally the result of a collaboration between CUDOS and Finisar. Dr. Michaël Roelens, previously a postdoctoral researcher at CUDOS and now a staff member at Finisar, developed the technology for the first WaveShaper around four years ago.

“We have a very fruitful ongoing collaboration with the University of Sydney, via CUDOS, and successful technology transfers like this highlight the importance of research in Australian universities,” said Dr. Simon Poole, director of new business ventures at Finisar Australia. “This ultimately creates jobs in Australia and drives our economy.”

For more information, visit: sydney.edu.au


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