As technology advances at an ever-increasing pace, the potential applications for optics continue to grow and fuel new discoveries. To highlight the breakthrough work being done in optics, the committee invited nine "Visionary Speakers" to share their knowledge.
Optical Interconnects in Data Centers. What's Next?
If there’s one motto for the current age of advanced computing and machine learning, it might be “There’s no such thing as too much data.” But the rapidly growing demand for ways to move that data around efficiently is creating some profound technical challenges—and spurring work on new optical frameworks and solutions. In a “Visionary Speakers” talk on Thursday, Marc Taubenblatt (above) of IBM Corp. sketched out some of those frameworks, particularly for data centers.
An important piece of the puzzle, Taubenblatt said, lies in some specific hardware solutions, such as moving the optics closer to the electronics on the chip and increased use of next-gen optical circuit switching. But he also suggested that part of the solution could come from thinking differently about network hardware and architectures writ large. In particular, he speculated that tomorrow’s networks may move increasingly away from their current, general-purpose approach to special-purpose systems in which the network architecture is matched to the needs and workloads of the task at hand.
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A Lighting Revolution
Detailing the lighting revolution taking place today in the automotive industry, Michael Godwin from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors looked ahead to the future of digital lighting for automotive applications. From headlamps to interior lighting, to heads-up displays in the automobiles of the future, Godwin shared opportunities for the optical sciences to directly impact the future of how drive our cars and the vehicles of tomorrow. This vision includes balancing visual, emotional and biological needs of humans in lighting applications.
A Vision for Using Practical Photonic Technologies
Outlining his vision for using practical photonic technologies in communication, biomedical, and energy applications, Vladimir Shalaev from Purdue University and the Birck Nanotechnology Center, USA, detailed emerging plasmonic, metamaterial, and metasurface concepts for the development of thermophotovoltaics, photodetectors, and nanotweezers among other applications. He also introduced the concept of 4D photonics, or space-time metasurfaces, which have the ability to enhance the manipulation of light at subwavelength scales, potentially leading to exciting new applications.