Published: 21 September 2014, 12:52 | By: Christian Helgert
On September 15, 2014 scientists from Australia and Germany gathered in Jena to hold a dedicated workshop on optical materials, photonic devices and nonlinear optics. On this occasion, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by ACP director Prof. Thomas Pertsch and CUDOS director Prof. Benjamin Eggleton. The MoU was further embedded in a two-day scientific workshop on optical materials, photonic devices and nonlinear optics to ignite future collaborative projects between the centers. CUDOS stands for Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems and is a Centre of Excellence of the Australian Research Council (ARC), merging seven Australian Universities, among them universities from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. "We are very excited about the approach of this event. The Memorandum of Understanding and the workshop are excellent first steps in establishing and promoting long-lasting synergies in photonics research around the globe," both Eggleton and Pertsch agree.
Close interconnections and collaborative schemes with partners in science and industry have always contributed to ACP´s success. Now with CUDOS, it has gained another international prime partner. Both centers will now team up to tackle one of the major challenges which photonic technologies are expected to meet in the 21st century: the bottleneck of electronic components in the IT industry. When the first computers emerged more than 70 years ago, they were still space filling behemoths. Ever since, the next-generation computer chips have not only become much more powerful, but also smaller by orders of magnitude. However, the end of this development seems in reach as the miniaturization of electronic components does have physical limits. Many scientists and engineers believe that the signal processing by means of light will play an increasingly important role in the near future. In addition, optical components are less susceptible and more sustainable as, for instance, less pure and thus less expensive silicon is needed for their production. The photonics community therefore shares the vision to develop unprecedented fast, small and cheap optical computer chips. At this point, the interests of ACP and CUDOS overlap: While ACP tackles this goal by exploring the fundamentals of novel photonic materials and miniaturized light sources, CUDOS fosters the development of photonic chips for all-optical signal processing.
On the one hand, within ACP's core research domain "Ultra Optics", the German center's principal scientists strive to attain control of light and of all its properties, which would potentially allow for using light as an instrument, tool or carrier of information. The CUDOS mission, on the other hand, focuses on integrated nanophotonics for all-optical information processing as well as on signal processing applications with excellent power efficiency. By going to single photon power levels, CUDOS scientists also aim at opening up a host of applications on the quantum scale. These exciting research opportunities will be explored by CUDOS over the coming years to develop ultrafast signal processors, quantum photonic processors, and integrated photonic devices for the mid infrared. The partnership of the two centers is an exciting match with a trans-continental reach - both centers expect that their complementary expertise will create an added value along the whole chain of research and development of future photonic components. "This MoU is a great foundation for future collaboration and partnership. It was wonderful to see the laboratories and facilities in Jena which is an amazing optics ecosystem and certainly unique," CUDOS director Eggleton stated after his visit.