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On Saturday 5th October, members of the Applied Optics Group (AOG) teamed up with the SPS Outreach team and Discovery Planet to run a day-long event in Ramsgate. The team ran two market stalls: ‘Light Loops’ and ‘Light Botic.' The First stall was to demonstrate the properties and applications of light. The second was more focused on active research. The goal was to introduce members of the public to the state of the art, as well as get younger people to visualise themselves as scientists.

The first two experiments in the ‘Light Loops’ tent demonstrated how light travels through acrylic tubes and reflected down a stream of water being poured from a bucket. These demonstrations showed how light can be ‘bent’ using optical fibres, getting it to where we need it. This hopes to take the underpinning of fiber optics and deliver it in an accessible way.

Next, we simulate a laser based security system where participants are asked to retrieve a crystal placed in the middle of the maze without breaking the laser line. Finally in this tent, we show how contrast agents and light allow us to see the invisible using an ultraviolet torch to four hidden letters introducing the idea of using fluorescence in medical imaging and document security (as taught to our forensic science students).

Finding the remaining three letters to complete an anagram then took participants over to the ‘Light Botic’ tent. Here, the participant had to try their skills as a medic, hunting for the remaining letters inside a ‘patient’ using a flexible endoscope, and giving them an insight into how difficult medical diagnostics can be. This tent also showcased some of our latest work in miniaturised medical imaging devices for the lung.

We had lots of interest, from both adults and children, and we even had a surprise visit from the University Vice-Chancellor Prof Karen Cox who happened to be passing by! Market Traders and shoppers also told us they enjoyed the extra buzz and energy in the market.

Notes: The event was funded by the EPSRC REBOT (Robotic Endobronchial Optical Tomography project), a collaboration between the AOG and Imperial College London on combining optical coherence tomography with medical robotics for imaging the lung. SPS staff and students taking part were: Adrian Podoleanu, Manuel Marques, Mike Hughes, Vicky Mason, Hannah Tonry, Andy Thrapp, Adrian Uceda, Gianni Nteroli, and Julien Camard. We were also joined by two students currently visiting the Applied Optics Group from Germany (Melanie Wacker) and Mexico (Victor Rico Botero), as well as volunteers from Discovery Planet.

Some photos from the event: (credits: Discovery Planet/Portia Wilson Photography/Adrian Podoleanu)

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Our OSA Student Chapter just returned from the Bushfields Science Academy Science Fair in Huntingdon. Our student chapter members were invited by Guy Holmes with Laser 2000 to act as roaming judges. During the event about 100 students were able present to judges their STEM research projects. At the end of the event medals were awarded to the top three groups. Poster topics at the event included special relativity and time travel into the future, marine life in the salt rich conditions of the dead sea, lasers and laser science. The students were judged on a few criteria: quality of research, communication skills, responses to questions, and impact of research. The winning presentation was one which described a machine learning approach to determining what type of structural modifications to make to buildings to survive adverse weather conditions -- the presenter described an approach where structural parameters were fed into a database and images from severe weather events were then used as training sets. The machine learning could then be used to predict other factors that led to a structures collapse. Talking with other judges at the time, it is easy to forget the people you are talking to are only 12 years old. We were incredible impressed with the quality and time put into the presentations. We were happy to contribute posters celebrating the role of LGBT+ and Women in Science.

OSA chapter members presenting posters celebrating Women in Science and LGBT+ in science. (Adrian, Andy, Rachel and Josh)
Full crew of event organisers

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Our Optical Society student chapter chapter members have been busy presenting their research these last few weeks. Here are the highlights of their adventures.

Andy and Adrian – International School of Light and Sciences Technologies

Adrian Fernandez and Andy Thrapp just recently returned from a trip to Santander, Spain. Where both received complete grants to attend the 2019 International School of Light Sciences and Technologies. The event was held in the Palacio De Magdalena, an extraordinary site overlooking the Bay of Biscay. During their visit Andy and Adrian got to meet Donna Strickland the 2018 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics. Donna gave a talk about the topic of her PhD “Chirped Pulse Amplification.” Andy and Adrian got to see many other notable speakers such as Kishan Dholakia, Michael Hamblin and Robert Huber. We are both very grateful we had the chance to attend and look forward to keeping up with all the people we met.

Adrian (left) and Andy (right) in Santander, Spain
Andy (left), Adrian (right) meeting Donna Strickland the 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Physics

Gianni – Oral Presentation at CLEO in Munich

Our OSA student chapter Vice President Gianni Nteroli was selected to deliver a talk on developments on using supercontinuum sources for high resolution multi-imaging instruments for biomedical applications. This project came about from a collaboration with NKT photonics. Research in this area is significant to develop imaging modalities which are capable of extracting both structural and functional information. Technologies like this will make way for the efficient monitoring of human tissue health. Imaging modalities such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) can be limited by noise degrading images, this can be compounded by sources introducing additional noise. Gianni discussed current challenges and research paths.

Gianni (OSA Vice President), Adrian Bradu (Academic - University of Kent) and Manuel Marques (Postdoc - University Kent) enjoying the city

Adrian – Poster Presentation in Barcelona

Our OSA student chapter Secretary Adrian Fernandez last week presented a poster at the student led International Network of Students (IONS) conference in Barcelona. Adrian’s work focused on master slave Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) a technique which is not widely known in the field of OCT.

Andy – Oral Presentation in Barcelona

Andy Thrapp our OSA student chapter President delivered a talk titled “Automatic motion compensation in Structured Illumination Microscopy.” The talk was around his research in optical sectioning microscope, and how any motion during a three frame acquisition process can lead to artefacts. Andy discussed approaches to correct those artefacts.

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Our Optical Society (OSA) student chapter returned on the 2nd of March from a visit to Laser 2000. We are very grateful to our host Guy Holmes and his staff for dedicating so much of their time, showing us what optics distribution is like, and the importance of technical sales. This visit was the first visit of the informational interview program we as a chapter have decided to pilot.

Entrance of Laser 2000 office at Huntingdon

This program is designed to smooth the transition from education to the workforce by bringing University of Kent optics and physical science students into contact with industry. Our chapter has started to reach out to optics and photonics companies across the UK to learn more about their businesses. We ask if they are willing to commit a few hours to a whole day with us, telling us about their business, showing us their facilities, and ask current employees questions. The benefit to the employer is getting access to a large group of highly skilled people nearing graduation. The benefit as individuals is a way to find companies aligned with our goals without the pressure of the interview setting.

Laser 2000's crew showing a demonstration of one of their optical sources and translation stages to our Chapter.

This first visit was very well received by Laser 2000, according to the president Guy Holmes, we are the first chapter to reach out, and they are willing to meet other OSA chapters. As a result of this visit we are currently in the preliminary stages of setting up a joint outreach event. Feedback from people who went felt the visit was worthwhile and several new members have expressed a willingness to become involved with our planned outreach activities.

You can find more information about Laser 2000 in their own website: https://www.laser2000.co.uk/company/about-us.

If you want more information about the visit or about informational interviews, don't hesitate in contacting us with your details.

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