Beacons of the Photonics Industry

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For the second year running, Photonics Media is honoring those in the photonics and optics industry whose outstanding contributions have advanced light-based technologies in the scientific, business, academic and consumer communities. Industry Beacons are nominated by you, our readers, and selected by the editorial staff of Photonics Media.

What follows are short profiles of this year’s 15 winners — three from each of our five categories. This year featured two new categories; honorees in the “leaders” category are outstanding executives who lead companies or divisions and have left their mark by building market share, introducing product lines or leading an expansion in a product category. Our “industry advocates,” for their parts, have championed a new technology or application, or shown a track record of service that “moved the needle” in raising awareness to key issues before the community.

Without further ado, here are this year’s honorees.

by Marcia Stamell, Associate Managing Editor

Helder Crespo
Helder Crespo
Sphere Ultrafast Photonics

Photo courtesy of Rosa Weigand.

Helder Crespo is CTO and a co-founder of Sphere Ultrafast Photonics, based in Porto, Portugal, which was started in 2013 by a group of researchers dedicated to improving the performance of femtosecond laser applications. An assistant professor of physics at the University of Porto, Crespo also is the co-founder of the university’s Ultrashort Pulse Laboratory. He was nominated by Benjamin Alonso Fernandez of the University of Salamanca, Spain.

“I knew Dr. Helder Crespo in 2011 during my Ph.D.,” wrote Fernandez, “while he and his coworkers had just patented the d-scan technique for the measurement of ultrashort laser pulses down to few-cycle durations…. Since then, he has led a fast and intense race in industry transfer.”

The d-scan technique can measure and control ultrafast lasers. It has both industrial and scientific applications and can handle broadband oscillators, amplifiers, OPAs and OPCPAs, and ultra-broadband hollow-fiber compressors emitting the shortest laser pulses, down to true single-cycle durations.

Current scientific customers include the University of California at Berkeley, the École Polytechnique in France, and the European Consortium ELI (Extreme Light Infrastructure), where d-scan technology is playing a key role in fields such as attosecond science and novel laser-particle acceleration schemes.

Crespo, who earned his Ph.D. in physics from IST in Lisbon and was a post-doctoral researcher at MIT, learned of his Beacon award during a brief return to Porto. He had just traveled to Bordeaux, France, where he gave a course at PYLA, a training center in photonics; Munich, where he gave two presentations as part of a large company presence at CLEO Europe 2017/Laser World of Photonics; and to Xi’an, China, for Atto 2017, the world’s leading conference on attosecond science, where Sphere Ultrafast Photonics showcased its new products and presented novel scientific results on tunable high-harmonic generation using d-scan.

Richard ClaytorRichard Claytor
Fresnel Technologies

Photo courtesy of Linda Claytor.

A lifetime of product innovation and commitment to bringing new optical products to market distinguish Richard Claytor.

Claytor is the founder and current vice president of Fresnel Technologies, based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company manufactures molded plastic optics that include conventional, Fresnel, and freeform lenses used for visible and IR applications.

Claytor started Fresnel Technologies in 1986 and served as company president for 14 years. He holds around 30 patents, said nominator Oscar Lechuga, who currently works at Fresnel. These, along with copyrights and trademarks, constitute many of the company’s developed optical materials and products. “The optical products that the company manufactures are used in medical, defense, security and many other commercial applications throughout the world,” wrote Lechuga.

Although he nominated Claytor based on a lifetime of product innovation and commercialization of optical products, Lechuga also pointed out that an endowed chair had been named for the prolific inventor at the University of Texas at Arlington: the Richard N. Claytor Distinguished Professor in Optics endowed Chair in the department of physics.

Richard Claytor earned his own Ph.D. in physics from Rice University. He began his career in the 1960s with Texas Instruments, where he worked in research and development of optics and microwave systems.

Don McPherson and Andrew SchmederDon McPherson and Andrew Schmeder

Don McPherson and Andrew Schmeder. Photo courtesy of Enchroma.

Don McPherson and Andrew Schmeder are heroes to people who are colorblind.

They’re co-founders of Enchroma, a company based in Berkeley, Calif., that makes glasses to enhance color perception for people with colorblindness.

“I was so impressed with their products and the research leading up to it,” wrote nominator Brian Park, a retired scientist living in Alexandria, Va., “especially the diversity of disciplines required to ‘pull this off.’”

The company got its start in 2005 when McPherson, a Ph.D. glass expert working on laser safety glasses for surgeons, discovered that the glasses also could improve color discrimination for people with red-green colorblindness. Schmeder, who holds a B.A. in mathematics, joined forces with McPherson to develop the computer models that simulated wavelengths of light and color-vision deficiencies that led to the final product.

Over the course of 10 years, the team received three Small Business Innovation Research grants from the National Institutes of Health. They founded Enchroma in 2010 to market the result, with Schmeder as CEO and McPherson as chief scientist. Last January, the Small Business Administration awarded Enchroma the 2016 Tibbetts Award for its innovative spirit and economic achievement.

Enchroma glasses contain a proprietary spectral filter, the company said, that removes small slices of light where the red and green cones overlap the most. The result is that people with red-green colorblindness can experience enhanced color, an improved ability to differentiate hues and better depth and detail perception.

by Robin Riley, Multimedia/web editor

Roy McCord Roy McCord
Irvine Valley College

Photo courtesy of Roy McCord.

Roy McCord’s original three-inch Newtonian telescope is still being used to teach students the ancient history of reflector telescopes. As an astronomy professor at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, Calif., McCord founded programs in astronomy and photonics technology that are going strong today.

McCord has mentored female science students, helping to place them in internships at a local biophotonics company through FemSTEM, a program he developed. From his last cohort of FemSTEM students, 10 transferred to their dream schools and half are pursuing advanced degrees in medicine and science.

A true explorer, McCord has traveled with a telescope in his backpack to Mayan sites in Mexico and Central America to share his interest in astronomy with fellow travelers. From 2003 to 2011, he made several work- and teaching-related visits to Nicaragua, with students along for some of these journeys. In 2006 and 2007, he focused his outreach on Jinotega, Nicaragua, where he produced two award-winning documentaries to support Circulo de Amigas, a small nonprofit community center.

Asked what he thought the most important attribute a STEM educator could have, McCord replied, “To appreciate and teach both the rigor of the STEM disciplines and the development of personal character.”

In addition to teaching, McCord has participated in medical device research and development; he founded a company to develop a unique, portable laser for intraocular cataract surgery that is still in use worldwide. As an industry consultant, he has invented systems for image acquisition and automated quantitative microscopy for use in stem cell and diabetes research.

McCord is a member of SPIE, the Automated Imaging Association, the Optical Society and the Orange County Astronomers. He has received a number of NSF grants for advanced teacher training, including a grant to study at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Isiah Warner Isiah Warner
Louisiana State University

Photo courtesy of Isiah Warner.

Isiah Warner is one of the world’s foremost advocates in the analytical applications of fluorescence spectroscopy.

But beyond his subject matter expertise, he’s served as an invaluable mentor to the next generation of scientists and as a champion of diversity.

When Warner joined Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1992, there had never been more than three African-Americans in the chemistry graduate program at any given time. In the history of the school, only six had earned Ph.D.s in chemistry. Since his arrival, 85 African-Americans have graduated with Ph.D.s in chemistry. LSU is no. 1 in the nation in African-American Ph.D.s in chemistry and also in percentage of female Ph.D. graduates in chemistry.

“As one of Isiah’s first doctoral students, now serving as president of Tennessee Tech University, I am just one of many examples of Isiah’s positive impact,” said his nominator, Philip Oldham.

When asked what he thought were his greatest strengths, Warner replied, “Love of science and love of students. I love to see students get excited when they discover something new.”

Warner holds the highest LSU professorial rank, Boyd Professor, and has been the recipient of numerous honors. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, and voted 2016 Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year. In May of this year, the mayor of Warner’s hometown, Bunkie, La. (pop. ~5,000), declared an “Isiah Warner Day,” and town officials, residents and friends gathered to celebrate Warner’s many accomplishments.

For almost three decades he served as corresponding author for the biannual review “Fluorescence, Phosphorescence, and Chemiluminescence” in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Nick Massa Nick Massa
Springfield Technical Community College

Photo courtesy of Nick Massa.

As professor and program coordinator of the Optics and Photonics program at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) for over 30 years, Nick Massa has prepared more than 1000 students to become skilled optics and photonics technicians.

After earning degrees in electrical engineering, Massa’s interest in how people learn led him to attain a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership/Adult Learning. Working closely with industry, he has reinvented technician education at STCC, creating a student-centered program to develop graduates with strong critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and communications skills.

Massa has been a principal investigator on over a dozen regional and national National Science Foundation-Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) grant-funded projects, and was a founding co-director of the NSF-ATE National Center for Telecommunications Technology. Recently, he was awarded a $500,000 Massachusetts Skills Grant to develop a laser materials processing laboratory that will enable innovative interdisciplinary curricula, integrating industrial laser technology into existing programs such as mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology and biomedical device manufacturing. He is also a partner in the AIM Photonics Academy, which is focused on training optics and photonics technicians for the integrated photonics manufacturing industry.

Massa is a 2010 recipient of SPIE’s Educator Award, a recipient of the STCC Faculty of the Year award and of the Anthony M. Scibelli Endowed Chair award for excellence in teaching. He serves on the OSA Membership and Education Services committee and is a board member for the National Organization for Workforce Improvement.

“He has mentored countless high school and community college faculty in the development of optics/photonics courses and programs,” said his nominator and fellow educator, Judy Donnelly. “He is truly a ‘Photonics Beacon.’”

by Autum C. Pylant, News Editor

Peter WinzerPeter Winzer
Bell Labs

Photo courtesy of Peter Winzer.

Peter Winzer has made notable contributions to high-bandwidth fiber optic communication systems, heading the Optical Transmission Systems and Networks Research Department at Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J. His focus has been on various aspects of optical networks, system design, advanced optical modulation formats and multiplexing schemes, receiver concepts, digital signal processing and coding, and robust network architectures for dynamic data services.

He contributed to several high-speed and high-capacity optical transmission records with interface rates from 10 Gb/s to 1 Tb/s, including the first 100G, the first 400G, and the first 1T electronically multiplexed optical transmission systems, and the first field trial of live 100G video traffic over an existing carrier network. Since 2008 he has been investigating and globally promoting spatial multiplexing as a promising option to scale optical transport systems beyond the capacity limits of single-mode fiber.

Winzer has been widely published and is actively involved in technical and organizational tasks with the IEEE Photonics Society and the Optical Society (OSA), currently serving as editor-in-chief of the IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology. He was program chair of the 2009 European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) and program chair and general chair of the 2015 and 2017 Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC).

Winzer is among the few Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers working at an industrial research lab. He is also a Bell Labs Fellow, a Fellow of the IEEE and of the OSA and an elected Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. Winzer received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria, in 1998.

Nick Holonyak Nick Holonyak
ECE Illinois

Photo courtesy of Irfan Ahmad/University of Illinois.

Known as the “father of LED lighting,” Nick Holonyak has earned international recognition for major contributions to elemental and compound semiconductors, including semiconductor lasers and incoherent light emitters.

Holonyak is credited with creating the first visible LED, using gallium arsenide phosphide (GaAsP) and simulated emission. In 1959, he was the first to make silicon tunnel diodes and the first person to observe phonon-assisted tunneling. Holonyak pioneered the use of a number of alloys in diodes, and in 1977 he and a student made the first quantum-well laser diode. He invented the red-light semiconductor laser used in CD and DVD players and cellphones, as well as the shorted emitter p-n-p-n switch used in light dimmers and power tools. In 1991, he co-invented native oxide for today’s oxide VCSEL for optical interconnect. In 2004, he co-invented the transistor laser for integrated photonics.

Holonyak’s work has led to almost 600 papers and 61 patents. He is the co-founder of QEOS, pioneering the commercial development of high-speed, low-cost and power-efficient fiber optics communications solutions. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. He is one of only 13 Americans to have won both the National Medal of Science (1990) and the National Medal of Technology (2002). In 2004, he won the Lemelson-MIT Prize — the world’s largest single cash prize for inventions. Other awards include the Global Energy Prize (2000) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering (2017).

Holonyak has been a member of the ECE Illinois electrical engineering and physics faculties since 1963, and the John Bardeen Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics since 1993.

Joseph Lakowicz Joseph Lakowicz
University of Maryland

Photo courtesy of Joseph Lakowicz/University of Maryland.

A true pioneer in the application of fluorescence technology to address practical problems in biochemistry, biophysics, medicine and technology, Joseph Lakowicz, Ph.D., has published over 600 peer-reviewed publications, authored three books and co-authored more than 20 books. He co-founded three journals and has over 40 U.S. patents.

A professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, Lakowicz is also the director of the Center for Fluorescence Spectroscopy. His research includes fluorescence lifetime-based sensing of many analytes and influences; frequency domain photon migration imaging and fluorescence polarization-based sensing. Lakowicz was the first to report fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), which has become a widely used tool for cell imaging.

Lakowicz’s studies also include multiphoton excitation of fluorescence; the use of long-lived fluorophores in immunoassay; studies of the structure and dynamics of biomolecules; the development of light quenching, which provided the first approach to superresolution light microscopy; and the exploitation of metal-enhanced fluorescence (MEF) that has since grown into plasmonics. He was the first to show that a plasmonic metal film could make fluorescence occur in specific directions, a phenomenon called surface plasmon-coupled emission (SPCE). Lakowicz is not accepting what nature provides as free-space emission, but instead is using near-field effects to modify the emission directly starting at the location of the fluorophore. This work has been extended to photonic, hybrid nanostructures and surface-bound states, showing that thin multilayer structures can replace bulky optical components for collection of emission and spectral resolution, which enables a new generation of simple devices for research, medical offices or patient self-testing.

He served as organizer, chair, and editor for the proceedings of more than two dozen conferences on these topics.

Lakowicz has been developing concepts in fluorescence for over 35 years and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health.

by Evan Kalinowsky, Intern

Pierre Galarneau Pierre Galarneau 
National Optics Institute (INO)

Photo courtesy of Pierre Galarneau/Institut national d’optique (INO).

Company founder. Conference organizer. Executive at the National Optics Institute.

These are a few of the titles held by Pierre Galarneau, who in 1985 co-founded Holospectra (which later became Laseris), a company that designs and manufactures LED illumination solutions and laser modules. Since then he has worked tirelessly for the industry, organizing multiple photonic conferences, authoring over 75 papers and giving 90 lectures at specialized conferences.

Galarneau’s specialties include holographic beam splitters for high-power lasers. He has been heavily involved with real-time holography and holographic optical recordings on various thin films made of selenium-germanium, lithium, telluride and polyvinyl alcohol.

Galarneau joined the National Optics Institute (INO) in 1989 and has been vice president and chief technology officer since 2008. His management of the R&D portfolio allowed the creation of 32 spin-offs and the execution of 69 technology transfers in fields including microfabrication, specialty optical fiber, machine vision, laser applications and biophotonics. In addition, INO serves an average of 150 companies annually with a demonstrated impact of more than $300 million on the annual Canadian economy. Galarneau has been a member of the Council on Innovation and Commercialization of the Conference Board of Canada since 2012 and is a Board member of various institutions including Innoventures-Canada, COPL and 3IT.

Galarneau received his Ph.D. in physics from Université Laval, Québec, Canada, in 1985. After a postdoctoral position at the University of Waterloo, he returned to Université Laval as a Research Associate.

James WyantJames Wyant
University of Arizona

Photo courtesy of Margy Green.

In addition to being an experienced entrepreneur in the field of photonics, James Wyant is also the founding dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona; he is now professor emeritus after retiring as dean in 2012. He is the author of over 300 papers and has given invited talks on interferometry, holography and optical testing. While at the University of Arizona, Wyant has been the major advisor of 34 Ph.D. students and 25 M.S. students.

Wyant advocates for the industry through his significant expertise in launching and growing industry corporations. He co-founded WYKO Corporation, 4D technology and DMetrix while also being a member of the board of directors for several organizations, including ILX Lightwave, Veeco Instruments, Optics 1 and DMetrix.

Wyant is the recipient of many industry accolades, including the OSA Joseph Fraunhofer Award, the SPIE Gold Medal and the SPIE Technology Achievement Award. He is a five-time recipient of R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Award, as well as a five-time recipient of Laurin Publishing’s Photonics Circle of Excellence Award for optical products.

Wyant intends to give back to the industry by supporting the next generation through his $10 million donation for graduate student scholarships at the University of Arizona. To increase the impact of his gift, Wyant structured the commitment as a 4:1 matching gift offer on donations made to endowments known as FoTO (Friends of Tucson Optics) endowed scholarships. The idea is to help attract the top talent in the nation and provide an enriched education.

M.J. SoileauM.J. Soileau
University of Central Florida

Courtesy of M.J. Soileau.

M.J. Soileau has garnered attention for his many technical and scientific papers, but his role in leading the creation of the Center of Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) is a crowning achievement. Soileau actively participates in the community and occupies positions on a variety of boards and committees, including the Florida Research Consortium and the Astronaut Memorial Foundation. Under his leadership, research funding for UCF’s Office of Research and Commercialization increased from $36.6 million in 1998 to $1.2 billion since 2000. Soileau has also served as an officer in the United States Air Force and worked as a research scientist for the U.S. Navy. He served as vice president for research and commercialization from 1999 to 2016 and currently is Distinguished Professor of Optics and Photonics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Physics at the University of Central Florida. He has published over 170 technical and scientific papers on optics, laser-induced damage to optical materials and nonlinear optics.

Soileau has been named to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame (FIHF) in recognition of his innovative research in the advancement of high-energy laser optics. Among other recognitions, he has also received the Gold Medal of the SPIE and the OSA Ester Hoffman Beller Award. He is a Fellow of SPIE, OSA, IEEE, AAAS, and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and in 2016 was elected a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Science.

Soileau received a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and physics from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in physics/optics from the University of Utah and a doctorate degree in electrical engineering/quantum electronics from the University of Southern California.

by Justine Murphy, Senior Editor

Patricia SeniwPatricia Seniw
Fiberguide Industries

Photo courtesy of Fiberguide Industries.

Under Patricia Seniw’s tenure as president of Fiberguide Industries, the company’s global presence has grown from a locally focused company to a world leader in specialty multimode fiber optics, metallized fiber optic cable, and high-precision fiber optic bundles and arrays. She led Fiberguide to the 2017 Halma Innovation Award for Development, as well as a 2016 grant from the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission to develop a novel reflectometer for wide-band, accurate measurement of fiber optic transmission loss due to end-face reflection.

Seniw’s accomplishments also include implementation and development of the first commercial nanostructured fiber optic cables (RARe Motheye Fiber), fiber optic Bragg grating sensor construction and creation of a new manufacturing hub in Shanghai. She has fostered superlative technical innovation, according to her colleagues, spurring unprecedented growth and fueling Fiberguide’s global impact.

In the academic realm, Seniw established mentoring and internship programs in conjunction with the University of Oregon, Boise State University, the Halma Group’s Graduate Development Program, and the University of Florida College for Optics and Photonics (CREOL). Prior to joining Fiberguide Industries, she served in other executive positions within the Halma Group.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacology from the University of Alberta, Canada, and a master’s degree in business administration from McGill University.

Alex CableAlex Cable
Thorlabs Inc.

Photo courtesy of Thorlabs Inc.

Alex Cable got his start in the industry at Bell Labs in 1984, where he was involved in projects such as low-temperature atom manipulation. Five years later, he founded Thorlabs Inc. — a global manufacturer of photonic tools, components, instruments and imaging systems — where he has served as president and CEO ever since.

Under his leadership, the Newton, N.J., company has gone from a basement-run, one-page catalog company to one that offers over 16,000 products. And over the past nearly 30 years, it has expanded into 15 manufacturing facilities in nine countries, employing over 1600 people worldwide. Cable attributes such growth to a combination of in-house engineering efforts and acquired competencies.

Cable is a strong supporter of the photonics industry and related academia, providing student travel grants, sponsorship, and in-kind donations to conferences and universities each year. Additionally, he is a founding member and board member of KDD FiberLabs of Tokyo, Menlo Systems GmbH, Boston Micromachines, Stratophase Ltd., PicoLuz, and Castor Optics. With Thorlabs, he has created hundreds of jobs and served as a catalyst for promoting STEM programs and robotics teams in his community, where he also supports local events and community-enriching programs.

Cable received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Rutgers University, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and material science from the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Nader EnghetaNader Engheta
University of Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of University of Pennsylvania.

A native of Tehran, Iran, Nader Engheta is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, affiliated with the electrical and systems engineering, bioengineering, materials science and engineering, and physics and astronomy departments.

His current research activities span a broad range of areas; in addition to photonics, he studies metamaterials, nano-optics, graphene optics, microwaves, imaging and sensing inspired by eyes of animal species, microwave and optical antennas, and physics and engineering of fields and waves. In 2006, his leadership in these areas put him on Scientific American magazine’s 50 Top Leaders in Science and Technology.

His research has been recognized numerous times throughout his extensive career, which spans several decades. These honors include several from IEEE — among them, the 2017 William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award from the IEEE Photonics Society, the 2012 IEEE Electromagnetics Award and the IEEE Third Millennium Medal — and others such as the 2015 SPIE Gold Medal, the 2015 Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, the 2015 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship Award from the U.S. Department of Defense, the 2015 Wheatstone Lecture in King’s College London, the 2014 van der Pol Gold Medal from URSI, the 2013 Inaugural SINA Award in Engineering, and the Guggenheim Fellowship.

Engheta is a Fellow of seven international scientific and technical societies, including IEEE, The Optical Society, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, SPIE, the International Union of Radio Science, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He holds a B.S. from the University of Tehran, and an M.S and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He has been granted honorary doctoral degrees, as well, from Aalto University in Finland and the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

Published: August 2017
Don McPhersonAndrew SchmederRichard ClaytorRoy McCordIsiah WarnerJoseph LakowiczPeter WinzerNick HolonyakM.J. SoileauPierre GalarneauJames WyantAlex CableNader EnghetaPatricia SeniwbeaconsHelder Crespo2017 Reader Issue

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