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Tyndall Scientist Awarded Rank Prize for Optoelectronics

CORK, Ireland, Feb. 11, 2014 — Eoin O’Reilly’s pioneering work in the field of optoelectronics has earned him the 2014 Rank Prize. He is the first from Ireland to receive the honor.

Head of the Theory, Modelling and Design Centre at Tyndall National Institute and a professor of physics at University College Cork, O’Reilly conducted breakthrough research on strained lasers at the University of Surrey from 1984 to 2001.

His work has bolstered all fiber optic communication, from long-haul to local area networks, and has acted as a power source for optical amplifiers, making possible optoelectronic applications such as underwater networks, DVD and Blu-ray storage, printers and sensing, and pollution monitoring at longer wavelengths.

The Rank Prize Fund also recognized O’Reilly’s co-researcher at USurrey, Alfred Adams, and the independent work of Eli Yablonovitch while at Bell Communications Research Inc. in Red Bank, N.J. (now part of Ericsson), and of Gordon Osbourn while at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

The researchers challenged the widely accepted orthodoxy that stated semiconductor lasers should be strain-free. They predicted the benefits of incorporating one strained layer or more in the active regions of semiconductors lasers, thus creating an ideal band structure.

Their innovations have maximized operating frequency while decreasing linewidth and frequency chirp, and have enabled a wide range of laser wavelengths to be accessed.

“From your high-speed Internet connection to your favorite DVD, strained lasers have been the key catalyst to a faster digital world over the past 30 years,” said Kieran Drain, CEO of the Tyndall National Institute. “[O’Reilly’s] blue-sky thinking has made him a pivotal member of a small group of pre-eminent researchers in this field.”

Besides research and teaching, O’Reilly is a key driver in photonics and computational modeling for Tyndall, and a leading researcher in the field of optoelectronics. His work has been featured in hundreds of publications.

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