Written by Dom Siriani
So FiO/LS is finally in full swing here in Rochester, NY. I had hoped to have something to talk about yesterday, but my flights were delayed and I got in too late. Consequently, I missed the special symposium for Emil Wolf’s 90th birthday, which had been one of the sessions I was very eager to see. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see the presentations through the media the organizers are posting online, or at least I can talk to some of my earlier-arriving colleagues about the session.
Now, though, it’s the close of the first full day of talks. I had the opportunity to see some really impressive work. As I’m guessing is the case for many attendees, my morning was spent at the awards ceremony and plenary session. First, repeat congratulations to all the award recipients today. They constitute a remarkable group of brilliant scientists, and speaking personally, they provide a source of inspiration for young researchers.
I particularly enjoyed the special addresses by Ives Medal recipient Marlan Scully and Arthur L. Schawlow Prize winner Michael Fayer. Prof. Scully’s talk centered on a thermodynamic perspective of quantum efficiency. Starting with the classical idea of the Carnot efficiency, he explained how researchers were able to derive the same results for quantum heat engines, or in other words the efficiency of thermal light generation. He also explained using some fundamental calculations that the apparent quantum Carnot limit can be exceeded by using quantum coherence. This, he expanded, could have implications for higher efficiency solar cells, detectors, and lasers. Beyond the interesting technical nature of the talk, Prof. Scully himself also proved to be a very engaging and spirited speaker, taking time to share interesting anecdotes and asides, which I really enjoyed.
Following the special addresses were the plenary lectures. David Williams spoke about imaging cells in the eye in vivo with adaptive optics. Not only did he show some remarkable results of how exceptional adaptive optics are at removing unwanted and resolution-limiting aberrations, but he really opened my eyes to the medical implications for treating ocular diseases and other issues (pun maybe intended…). Alfred Goshaw educated everyone on the Higgs Boson, explaining what it is, why it’s important, and what the recent result from CERN tells us. Not being too familiar with the field but certainly interested, I’m happy that his presentation allows me to say that I at least have a basic idea of the meaning and significance of the boson (I’ll have to try it out as a cocktail party conversation piece sometime, I guess). Finally, Paul Corkum presented his work on extreme nonlinear optics for attosecond pulses. He started with the fundamental idea that an electron tunneling through an atomic potential under the influence of an external light field acts very much like an interferometer. From there, he explained many implications for short pulse science and measurements.
I also attended many of the sessions in the afternoon, although I will only mention one at the moment since I wrote about it in a previous entry. I was very impressed with the Symposium on Undergraduate Research. The young speakers in that session discussed many interesting experimental results (imaging metamaterials, reflectance spectroscopy of organic thin film transistors, and some VCSEL work, which I always like hearing about, just to name a few). I was not only impressed by the work itself, but by the confidence and knowledge that the presenters displayed. They are certainly doing great things and seem to be off on a path to becoming amazing researchers.
With that, I’ll wrap up this entry. It was an exciting first day, which is likely just indicative of the trend for the week. I look forward to learning a whole lot more tomorrow!
Disclaimer: Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Government and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
Posted: 10/15/2012 5:59:14 PM by
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