All-Virtual CLEO 2021 Showcases Innovative Research and Applications in Laser Science

WASHINGTON – Distinguished speakers from across the globe described advances in quantum and silicon photonics, optical imaging and sensing and more during the all-virtual CLEO 2021 held 09 – 14 May. The conference drew more than 4,600 registrants from 73 countries.

Ultra-broadband nanophotonics, integrated nonlinear photonics, self-driving cars, ultrafast lasers and the optics community’s response to COVID-19 were among topics for more than 2,000 technical and poster presentations across 241 Technical, Postdeadline Papers and Poster Sessions, workshops, Short Courses and special events. Registrants have access to recorded presentations to view on-demand for 60 days.

“The virtual event expanded our knowledge of research and technologies that are driving the industry forward,” said CLEO 2021 Program Chair Clara Saraceno. “The extraordinary developments in areas ranging from high harmonic and fiber-based light sources to photonic computing illustrate the amazing work of researchers and industry leaders developing and bringing these products to market.”

Speakers from government, industry and academia participated in a workshop focused on biophotonics and nanophotonics optical approaches in fighting pandemics and challenges associated with those applications. Among them, UV radiation for effective decontamination and cleaning and spectroscopy techniques for rapid pathogen detection and virus probing.

“The presenters covered a wide-range of groundbreaking research that is rapidly changing our field,” said CLEO 2021 General Chair Christophe Dorrer. “We are investigating our world at the fundamental level and addressing concrete problems with photonics and advanced laser science.”

One presentation reviewed work underway to detect exoplanets with precision optical technology. “Small planets are very abundant in our galaxy,” said Dimitri Mawet of California Institute of Technology, USA, adding that direct imaging will enable scientists to learn more about their atmospheres.

The discovery of the supermassive black hole was the topic of a talk by Shep Doeleman of Harvard University, USA. This seminal achievement relied on optical sparse aperture systems for astronomical observations. The team used a technique called very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) using radio telescopes worldwide connected by a network of atomic clocks to observe the hole and digitize data, he said.

Industry Leading Companies in Lasers and Electro-Optics

The CLEO Virtual Exhibition featured 80 leading companies in laser science and photonic applications. Toptica Photonics, AIM Photonics, OptoSigma, Coherent, MKS, Synopsis, Oz Optics, Menlo Systems and many more showcased new products and engaged with attendees.

Plenary Speakers

Nicolas Gisin, Professor Emeritus, University of Geneva, Switzerland, described the evolution of quantum information science from Bell inequalities to commercial Quantum Key Distribution and Quantum Random Number Generator chips.

Jeremy O’Brien, CEO, PsiQuantum, USA, discussed the company’s approach to fault tolerant quantum computing. O’Brien described progress towards building a useful quantum computer but acknowledged a large-scale model with silicon photonic chips is years in the making.

Alan Eli Willner, Professor, University of Southern California, USA, described optical communications applications beyond conventional fiber systems that harness photonic technologies using photonic-integrated circuits.

Margaret Murnane, Director, STROBE, Fellow, JILA, Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, explored advances in high-harmonic light sources and efforts to harness and control short-wavelength light. The work has generated powerful new tools for x-ray imaging, manipulating quantum materials and designing more efficient nanoscale devices.

Stefanie K. Johnson, Associate Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, talked about unconscious bias in her presentation on diversity and inclusion and provided recommendations to improve decision-making in professional settings.

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