A Spotlight on Optics

The Optics Society at U-M hosted an Industry Spotlight event, which brought academia, industry, and community together to celebrate all things optics and photonics.

multicolor fiber optics Enlarge
Multicolor fiber optics.

Nearly 100 students, faculty, industry representatives, and local community members turned out for the Optics and Photonics Industry Spotlight held on March 28th, 2019. The goal of the event is to celebrate the field of optics and photonics and give attendees a chance to network. It’s organized by the Optics Society at the University of Michigan (OSUM) in partnership with the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Optical Society. ECE PhD student Laura Andre serves as president of OSUM.

Members of the Optics Society at U-M. Enlarge
Members of the Optics Society at U-M.

“My favorite part of the event was watching industry and academia come together in celebration of our field of optics,” Andre said. “I saw people reconnecting with colleagues they had known for many years, as well as people meeting for the first time and hopefully making a lasting connection.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Marc D. Himel, the Director Inside Sales and Customer Success at MKS Instruments – Newport Corporation. He spoke about the impact of optics and photonics on the world today and how optics will serve the greatest engineering challenges of the future. Topics included the role of optics in:

  • Exploring our universe with the Hubble telescope, the detection of gravitational waves, etc.
  • Sustainability and the environment, such as harnessing solar energy and thermal imaging to detect energy leaks and inefficiencies
  • Industry, including laser micro-machining, furthering the next generation of computer chip manufacturing, 3-D printing, and additive manufacturing
  • Our health, such as pill-sized cameras that can be swallowed, glasses, contact lenses, and laser eye surgery
  • Safety and security through use of thermal camera imaging for firefighters, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, LIDAR (sensing), and autonomous vehicles

“I hope that the audience was able to get a sense of all of the different ways that optics influences science, technology, and our daily lives,” Andre said. “Students hopefully have a better idea of the opportunities available to them after graduation in the field of optics and are confident that the future of the field is bright.”

The future of the field is bright.

Laura Andre, Optics Society President

Optics at U-M

U-M has boasted a strong presence in the field of optics thanks to the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS), soon to be renamed the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optical Science after the A. D. Moore Distinguished University Professor Emeritus who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.

During Mourou’s nearly 20-year career at U-M, he founded CUOS, constructed the T-cubed laser and HERCULES (the most intense laser in the world), and refined the Chirped Pulse Amplification technique, which was what ultimately won him and his partner, Donna Strickland, the Nobel Prize.

Read more about Mourou’s return to campus after winning the Nobel Prize.