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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)

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

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.

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.

The University of Kent OSA Student Chapter was proud to host Dr. Riccardo Sapienza from King’s College London on the occasion of the School of Physical Sciences colloquium.

Dr. Sapienza was welcomed at the Ingram Building by members of the University of Kent OSA Student Chapter and was taken on a short tour of the Photonics laboratories of the Applied Optics Group. Research in optical coherence tomography and photoacoustic microscopy have been shown. Afterwards Dr. Chao Wang explained research activities done at Microwave Photonics lab from the School of EDA (Engineering and Digital Arts). Research includes Ultrafast imaging systems, optical beamforming and 5G communication. Ultrafast imaging systems are used for high speed signal or image detection and can be used in microscopy and tomography applications with compressive sensing techniques solving needle in haystack problem. Optical beamforming technique is wireless optical communication using optical grating.

After the lab tours Dr. Sapienza was taken to lunch by our academic supervisor Prof. Adrian Podoleanu and joined by the chapters’ president, vice-president and secretary.

At 2 pm, Dr. Sapienza gave his talk entitled “Nanoscale photonic network lasers”. He began by giving a background of complex optical networks and the research he has conducted towards generating such network using polyester fibres combined with quantum dots to enable information flow over several micrometres. Afterwards he explained on how to use such complex network to produce a “random” laser using a specific emitter in a network and pumping the whole network and measuring the outputs of the laser.

At the end of the one hour talk, pictures were taken with the audience and with members of the chapter. The event was attended by staff and students of the Applied Optics Group, School of Physical Sciences and the Communications Research Group, School of Engineering and Digital Arts.

 

Abstract of the talk:

With decades of proven success, lasers have become central to many technologies that are used in manufacturing, communications, medicine and entertainment. Yet laser research continues to develop new types of light sources with unique and unprecedented characteristics, that have not yet been realised with existing laser technology.

Conventional lasers are generally restricted to aligned mirrors at fixed positions and 1D geometries, resembling the original design from the ‘60s. Instead, random lasers are mirror-less lasing systems which use highly disordered materials to obtain laser action, and have attracted significant interest due to their structural simplicity. Here the disordered matrix folds the optical paths by multiple scattering, while optical gain provides the amplification that triggers lasing. The result is an opaque medium in which laser light is generated by flowing and scattering in a speckle-like pattern.

I will introduce photonic network lasing originated from a web-like network of subwavelength waveguides. Building on this I will show how we design and fabricate biocompatible random laser lasers that can be use as sensitive sensors for living tissue integration, opening a path between complex photonics and medicine for future health care.

The University of Kent OSA Student Chapter was proud to host Dr. Arlene Smith, a 2017 OSA Ambassador, who had offered to visit the Chapter and give a talk on professional development. Prior to her visit, the Chapter had advertised the event to staff and students of the School of Physical Sciences and the School of Engineering and Digital Arts by placing television screen adverts in the foyers of the two Schools and by sending email reminders.

The President of the Chapter, Mike Everson, received Dr. Smith at the Ingram Building and took her on a short tour of the Photonics laboratories of the Applied Optics Group. Afterwards she was taken to lunch at Dolce Vita by the Chapter Advisor Professor Adrian Podoleanu and accompanied by the Chapters’ President, Secretary and Treasurer for light conversation.

At 1 pm, Dr. Smith gave her talk entitled “Optical Networking: Connecting You to Your Career”. She began by giving a background of OSA and the field of Optics and Photonics, including information and statistics regarding the different chapters and other associated organisations, collaborative partners and external connections. This gave a very interesting insight into the current work of OSA.

Recounting her personal experience, Dr. Smith presented a guide for postgraduate students, who are thinking about the next step in their career. She highlighted the benefits of being active in the scientific community and encouraged students to network through a variety of different events such as conferences.

At the end of the one hour talk, pictures were taken with the audience and with members of the chapter. The event was attended by staff and students of the Applied Optics Group, School of Physical Sciences and the Communications Research Group, School of Engineering and Digital Arts.

Abstract of the Talk:

In today’s competitive job market, simply having an MSc or PhD may not be enough to get you where you want to go. In this talk, I will share my experiences as an early career professional in the optics industry, including making the jump from academia to industry and the value of establishing and growing a professional network.

Biography of the Speaker:

Dr. Arlene Smith is a Program Manager for Avo Photonics, Inc., USA and a 2017 OSA Ambassador.
She obtained a BSc in Physics and Astronomy from the National University of Ireland, Galway, an MSc in Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices from the University of St Andrews and a PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She previously worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Biomedical Imaging at the University of Michigan.

Venue of the Talk:
Room 110, Ingram Building
School of Physical Sciences
University of Kent

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From the UBAPHODESA project's website:

The Applied Optics Group and the OSA student chapter of the University of Kent organised a small event for the international celebrated “Day of Photonics” on the 21st of October. The Day of Photonics celebrates the adoption of the current speed of light at the General Conference of Weights And Measures on the 21st of October 1983.

The Applied Optics and OSA student chapter organised a small booth in one of the universities science buildings, presenting various optical instruments and phenomena. They also offered guided lab tours to the photonics labs and gave an insight to the research carried out at the Applied Optics Grouop of the University of Kent.
We had the chance to meet with many interested students and give them an introduction to our research and gave them the opportunity to ask questions concerning optics and our research.

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Some of the members of the Chapter, alongside AOG members. From left to right: Prof David Jackson, Felix Fleischhauer, Sophie Caujolle, Manuel Marques, Magalie Bondu, Samuel Edeagu, Mike Everson.

Closer look on our presented experiments:

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Impressions during the lab tours:

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At the beginning of October 2015 two postgraduate students from the University of Kent OSA Student Chapter (Yong Hu & Mike Everson) embarked on a weeklong trip to Besançon, France to give a collection of talks to school students.

The trip, organised by Carole Hémard from the British Council, was an effort to introduce young pupils (14-20yrs) to the potential eventuality of working with foreign speaking collaborators as well as taking a break from their usual routine by giving them the chance to meet with professionals and have some fun with science.

Besancon 2015

The researchers visited a number of schools in the surrounding areas including Montbéliard, Belfort and Morez where they discovered that regular adjustments to their talks were necessary to suit the abilities of the pupils as well as the varying time frames available at different venues.

The talks focused on the properties of light and its applications in fibre optics, with the use of an interactive demonstration, and spectroscopy, where the pupils made their own spectroscope in a workshop and used them to deduce the elements in four different atomic emission gas tubes. The introduction also gave the pupils some background details about the speakers and how they came to be university postgraduate students, the idea being to show that they can elevate themselves to any position they desire and also to inspire and encourage the pursuit of a career in science.

No trip abroad could possibly take place without a little sight seeing and so the postgraduates were suitably treated to a variety of science museums and expositions, some of which were centred on optics and photonics. Plus they attended the ‘fête de la Science’ in Besançon and met with the director of the International Year of Light (IYL) initiative, Professor John Dudley, as well as many other scientists and professionals in the same subject areas.

Overall the trip was a huge success, justifiable by the large amount of positive feedback returned from the pupils who attended as well as the teachers, inspectors, lab assistants and other onlookers. Now that the right connections have been established with academics through the British Council, the University of Kent’s OSA Student Chapter has the exciting potential to undergo similar outreach activities in the future.

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Our BLOX demonstration kit in action!

Manuel Jorge Marques

On Saturday, March 14th, several members of the Applied Optics Group and of the OSA student chapter took on the challenge of organising and hosting an outreach event with the support of the School of Physical Sciences at the local city museum, the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge.

Titled "Light up your life - Day of Discovery", this event focused on raising awareness of the importance of Optics and Photonics among the general public, especially since this year has been proclaimed by the United Nations as the International Year of Light (IYL). We had about 100-200 people attending throughout the day, mostly families with children, which made it that more challenging as the way the content was presented had to be changed on-the-fly!

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Models of some of the "samples" we image at our Biomedical Imaging lab.

The event couldn't have gone forward without the organisation (and recruiting) from our School's outreach officer, Dr Vicky Mason, to whom we are grateful. She also provided an additional interactive module in the form of a thermal imaging camera (which yielded some interesting thermal "selfies" such as the one below).

A thermal photo of our current chapter president, Manuel Marques. (bluer regions mean lower surface temperatures).
A thermal photo of our current chapter president, Manuel Marques. (bluer regions mean lower surface temperatures).

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Some outreach posters were also exhibited, along with a slideshow depicting photos of our fellow researchers working in the lab (in the picture we have Yong aligning his Ti-Sapphire laser!).

Finally, our thanks to all of our colleagues who kindly volunteered to be there on a Saturday: Prof Adrian Podoleanu, Dr Adrian Bradu, Dr Sylvain Rivet, Christopher Costa, Catherine Chin, Manuel Marques, Michaël Maria and Radu Stancu.

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Manuel Jorge Marques

Last Friday, January 30th the OSA Student Chapter hosted a pizza party social event, which took place at the Photonics Centre meeting room. This was a fantastic way to finish a week's intensive course of seminars including invited talks and lectures integrated in the PH800 module curricula.

We were also visited by our colleagues currently in the first half of their Marie Curie PhDs in Denmark, who will eventually be involved in this Chapter at some point.

This was an excellent opportunity for all of us to meet in a more relaxed environment with a lot of lovely pizza ordered locally. Many thanks to everyone for coming!

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