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Integrated photonics, infinite possibilities

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Disruptive technologies such as self-driving cars, optical computers and ultrafast telecommunication networks all require one thing to come to fruition: more complex integrated photonic circuits. For that to happen, researchers must continue to push the limits of materials used to fabricate waveguides, filters, couplers and modulators found on the circuits.

In our cover story, “For Integrated Photonics, a Tale of Two Materials” (read article), we chronicle efforts to integrate III-V materials onto silicon wafers, and highlight recently commercialized components from the likes of Kaiam and Mellanox, and the potential role of graphene for use in high-speed optical modulators and detectors.

Not surprisingly, this versatile 2D material has applications beyond integrated photonics, among them the potential to replace indium tin oxide as the material of choice in plasmonics. Comsol Inc.’s Valerio Marra examines simulation and modeling techniques for optimizing designs in “Simulation, Experiment Unite Graphene and Plasmonics” (read article).

Moving from the world of plasmonics to the evolving field of image processing, we take a closer look at its two branches: embedded and deported processing. Contributing editor Marie Freebody’s “Image Processing Interprets the Modern World” (read article).

With the diffraction limit no longer the cutoff for optical measurement, superresolution techniques now allow optical metrology well below that point in the XY direction. Contributing editor Hank Hogan’s “Optical Metrology Breaks Barriers” (read article).

Key components Pockels cells and Faraday isolators get a fresh look in “Innovations Make Ultrafast Lasers Even Faster,” by Markus Fegelein of Qioptiq Photonics, (read article).

Finally, we chose the August issue to unveil a new recognition program called “The Beacons,” starting on page 63. Selected from reader nominations, the distinction is reserved for those in the photonics industry who’ve made significant contributions in the areas of entrepreneurship, research and education.

Among this year’s class of Beacons you’ll find a high school science teacher from Rochester, N.Y., who was inspired to build an ophthalmology lab to create glasses for students who couldn’t afford them and ended up creating a very popular precision optics fabrication program. And, in a nod to those with an entrepreneurial vision, we feature the co-founder of one of Germany’s pre-eminent machine vision companies, whose contributions to object recognition software can be seen in thousands of manufacturing facilities worldwide.

We hope you find inspiration in this issue.

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2016
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
EditorialmetrologyMichael D. Wheelerbeacons

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