Dr. Hall speaks at the Schawlow-Townes Symposium on Photonics

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Friday, November 9th 2012, Dr. Hall gave a speech at the first annual symposium on Photonics. The event, held by the University of Ottawa, hosted more than 140 physicists, students, and industry representatives in honour of Charles H. Townes and the late Arthur L. Schawlow. A transcription of his address follows:

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Distinguished Guests,

It is with immense pleasure that I, as Director of the Centre for Research in Photonics at the University of Ottawa, welcome you to this Schawlow-Townes symposium.

Schawlow & Townes pioneered the laser and without it, Photonics would still exist, but it would be a sad pale reflection of itself.

The 20th Century can be described as the century of Electronics. The 21st century will be similarly the century of Photonics.

Photonics has already had a profound effect on our lives. Energy efficient solid-state lights are not only for use as holiday lights but are also replacing incandescent lamps in buildings, cars, and traffic lights. Several lasers may be found in homes as well – in CD and DVD players, and even one to amuse the cat.

Light-emitting diodes are found in infrared controllers and on panels, while miniature liquid crystal displays, organic backlights, and miniature cameras enhance our smart phones.

There are laser therapies and surgery. Photonics is used in sensors and diagnostic instruments, and materials processing is currently the largest market for lasers.

There are also defense applications, and Optical Fiber Communications empowers the Internet and mobile wireless communications. The list goes on.

Photonics is a victim of its own success – it mostly goes unnoticed. As there is a sticker on every PC stating “Intel Inside”, a sticker is needed stating “Photonics Inside”.

There is a concentration of high technology business in Ottawa. Photonics is big business, and Ottawa has a share. At the height of the telecom boom, that share rose to 50% of the Global Market for optical components. After the bust the industry has reorganised and the market settled. Photonics is an enabling technology and remains important to the regional industry even if few describe themselves as in the photonics business.

The Centre for Research in Photonics at the University of Ottawa was established a decade ago to consolidate strengths in photonics across the Faculties of Engineering, Science, and to a lesser extent, Medicine. The University has invested in Photonics and the Centre now counts amongst its members 10 Canada Research Chairs, 1 Canada Excellence Research Chair, and 2 University Research Chairs – this must be the largest concentration of senior photonics researchers in Canada – and the Centre is recruiting more.

A new building is under construction that will house all photonics, roughly 150-200 people, on a single site.

With professors, researchers, students, bricks and mortar all in place, the Centre will take its place as an internationally leading research centre in photonics.

I am indebted to Mona Nemer, Vice President Research, for championing the vision for the Centre, and to Paul Corkum & Robert Boyd for energising the Centre through their organization of seminars & symposiums.

I hope you all enjoy today’s event.

For more information on the event, see: http://www.research.uottawa.ca/news-details-research_251.html. Furthermore, the official poster can be found here: Ottawa-Photonics-Symposium

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