Optica Foundation funds research through its 20th Anniversary Challenge
14.12.2022 - New photonics research to solve for environmental challenges and increasing the global bandwidth of optical communications.
The Optica Foundation released details of promising photonics research solving for global environmental challenges. Featuring the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Challenge awardees, this research aims to introduce new, cost-effective ways to test water purity at the source; provide an affordable and real-time system for water contaminant detection; harness heat energy and apply it toward electricity needs; and sense micropollutants in air quality.
“This photonics research seeks novel and powerful approaches to address critical environmental issues,” said Alan Willner, chair of the 20th Anniversary Challenge selection committee and 2016 Optica (then OSA) president. “The selection committee will excitedly be monitoring the awardees’ progress and sharing their findings as they become available. We look forward to the significant impact of their work on society.”
Environmental work from the 20th Anniversary Challenge includes:
- Portable Water Sensing, Dismas Choge, University of Eldoret, Kenya
- Real-Time Water Sensing, Ashim Dhakal, Phutung Research Institute, Nepal
- Waste Heat as Energy Source, Michela Florinda Picardi, ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Spain
- Clean Greenhouse Gas (CO2 and Methane) Monitoring, Wanvisa Talataisong, Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand
From photonic integration and nanotechnology to free-space optical communication strategies, recipients’ work advances alternative approaches to traditional optical communications in light of growing demand.
“As we approach the limits of Moore’s Law, we need to seek new ways of addressing the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth,” said Andrew Forbes, a member of the 20th Anniversary Challenge Selection Committee. “The research being conducted by Challenge recipients explores potential paths that respond to the growing workload that’s been building on existing communications capacity.”
Information research efforts from the 20th Anniversary Challenge include:
- Increasing Information Processing Capacity and Energy Efficiency, Chaoran Huang, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
- Steering Bandwidth with Nanotechnology, Mark Lawrence, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
- Solving Free-Space Optical Communications Challenges in the Mid-Infrared, Mengjie Yu, University of Southern California, USA
The Optica Foundation launched its 20th Anniversary Challenge to draw out novel ideas from early-career professionals and provide the seed money to investigate impactful hypotheses in the areas of environment, health, and information. Each of the recipients received $100,000 USD to explore their ideas and take steps toward addressing critical global issues. Recipients have begun work on these projects and expect to report initial results by the second quarter of 2023.
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