Speaker: Professor Rod C. Alferness, Dean of the College of Engineering, UC, Santa Barbara
Abstract: Innovation leadership to drive economic strength depends upon research advances as well as the ability to transfer that new knowledge into products and services that bring value and enhance daily life for end users. With the reduction of industrial research centers in the US, universities increasingly are taking on the role of technology transfer in addition to their traditional role of research. A 2013 NRC report on the future of photonics recommended that for the US to remain competitive in this important industry focus on photonic integration, emphasis on data center applications and leveraging university, industry, government partnerships would be essential. This recommendation was well timed with the launch of President Obama’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) initiative; integrated photonics was selected as the theme of the sixth NNMI Institute. American Institute for Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a consortium of companies and universities led by the State University of New York, was selected to build and lead the Integrated Photonics Institute, which was launched at the beginning of this year.
We provide a brief historical review of the evolution of optical communication networks- a key application area for photonics. While these multi-terabit/sec communication networks were enabled by major research advances in the US, today’s leading market share vendors are non-US companies. Increasingly, optical links and networks over shorter spans, including those inside data centers, are expected to be a strong market driver, especially as robust integration of photonics on silicon becomes commercially viable. This is one of the key market applications for integrated photonics addressed by AIM Photonics; others include RF systems, optical scanning systems and emerging sensors. We provide an overview of the AIM Photonics Institute, including its vision and goals, operation and governance model, membership structure.
Biography: Rod C. Alferness is the Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his B.S. in Physics and Math in 1968 from Hamline University, his M.S. in Physics in 1970 from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in in 1976 from the University of Michigan, studying under Professor Emmett Leith.
Alferness began work at Bell Labs in 1976. He served as Department Head of the Photonic Circuits and Photonic Networks Research Departments. His research focused on integrated photonic devices and circuits for optical communication networks, including high-speed optical modulators and switches for optical networks. His work on optical modulators was central to commercialization of lithium niobate waveguide modulators. He was an originator and the Bell Labs manager for the DARPA-funded MONET project that demonstrated technical feasibility of wavelength routed networks. He spent three years as Chief Technical Officer for the Lucent Optical Networking Business where he led the transfer of reconfigurable WDM network technology to commercial products. He returned to Bell Labs as Senior Vice President of Optical Networking and Access. Later, as Senior Vice President of Research at Bell Labs, he had overall responsibility for Lucent’s global Bell Labs research. With the merger of Alcatel and Lucent, Alferness became the Chief Scientist of Bell Labs where he oversaw long-term strategy, government and university partnerships, and research excellence programs. He has authored over 100 papers, holds more than 30 issued patents and authored 5 book chapters. He has given numerous plenary and invited lectures.
Alferness is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He received the 2005 IEEE Photonics Award and the 2010 OSA Leadership Award, and has served as President of the OSA and of the IEEE Photonics Society. Since 2000 he has served on the International Advisory Committee for the European Conference on Optical Communication.