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Blending entrepreneurship with integrated photonics: Juniyali Nauriyal

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Juniyali Nauriyal, a doctoral student at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, said she was always interested in physics but she had a special knack for optics. She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Mumbai in India, with a major in instrumentation and control systems. After earning a Master of Science degree from Rochester, she said she had fallen in love with the school and with optics as a field, and she knew she wanted to stay at the university’s Institute of Optics to work toward earning her doctorate.

On top of her regular course load, Nauriyal is researching integrated photonics at the university’s Cardenas Lab for Nanoscale and Integrated Photonics, led by assistant professor Jaime Cardenas. The group focuses on addressing high-impact challenges using nanostructured devices on a chip. The lab concentrates on four areas: photonic packaging, 2D materials integrated photonics, nonlinear photonics, and quantum photonics on a chip. The research is dedicated to discovering new optical and electrical properties for 2D materials and developing nanophotonic devices that can help scientists learn more about the environment of the cell at a local level, potentially leading to breakthroughs in the treatment of many different diseases.

Nauriyal is working on packaging integrated photonics in the lab. She told Photonics Media in an interview, “Imagine fabricating devices that work with light and lasers. These devices use light instead of electricity.” Hence, they are much faster and more efficient. Integrated photonics is being used in data centers, telecommunications, and data communications, and Nauriyal said the field is expanding exponentially. One of the reasons she enjoys research in integrated photonics is because it is highly application-based.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many labs to temporarily close, Nauriyal worked with high-power lasers to melt glass. In that position, she called herself a “fusion master.” And while the pandemic has changed her daily routines and workflows, Nauriyal said her time away from the lab has actually been a blessing because it has given her time to work on other projects, read papers, and think about potential innovations and solutions to a variety of problems. Additionally, it has given her more time to improve upon her entrepreneurship skills.

She hopes in the future to create and distribute technologies that can be used in photonic devices. After completing her doctorate, she would like to make her innovations available within the industry by starting a company. The entrepreneurial skills Nauriyal is developing now will help her to turn research projects into industrial products, and she noted that entrepreneurship is an important skill to have in any field.

Photonics Spectra
Dec 2020
Grad Student Profiles

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