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MC: What is the research focus of CREOL?
BS: Our research portfolio has three attributes: It is comprehensive, covering the optical spectrum (from THz to X-rays);
it includes materials, devices, and systems; and it is a blend of
basic science and engineering applications—a combination of
discoveries and inventions.
Our aim is to stretch the limits of what optics can do: for
example, the shortest optical pulse, the narrowest linewidth,
the lowest noise, the narrowest laser spot, the highest spatial
resolution, the greatest power, the highest efficiency, the lowest laser threshold, and micro- and nano-structured material
or optical fibers with exotic properties, and so on.
MC: That’s pretty ambitious! Any notable
BS: Many of our faculty are world renowned, and their work
has been impactful and highly cited. In 2013, the faculty pub-
lished 190 reviewed journal papers and were issued 19 pat-
ents. In 2012, UCF was ranked by the National Academy
of Inventors as ninth among U.S. public universities for pat-
ents produced, and CREOL contributed significantly to this.
Five faculty were recently named members of the National
Academy of Inventors. Professor Demetrios Christodoulides
was named in Thomson Reuter’s 2014 list of “The World’s
Most Influential Scientific Minds.”
A few examples of recent major research accomplishments
are: generation of the shortest laser pulse (67 attoseconds),
development of the lowest noise multi-GHz stabilized optical
comb semiconductor sources, first generation of ultra-high-
density spatial division multiplexing with a few-mode multi-
core optical fiber, discovery of a new method for fabrication of
in-fiber polymeric nanoparticles, harnessing notions from par-
ity-time symmetry to design stable single-longitudinal-mode
operation in a system of coupled microring lasers, and dem-
onstration of optically induced negative forces.
MC: How do you view the future of photonics?
BS: I am excited to see increasing public awareness of the importance of optics and photonics: the National Academies
report declaring O&P essential technologies for our nation, the launching of the National Photonics Initiative, the
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies announced by the UN, and the recent announcement by President
Obama of a $220 million Integrated Photonic Institute for
Manufacturing Initiative (IMI). I expect this to result in increased public funding for research, and I foresee continued enhancement of photonics science and technology and
MC: No doubt you will be pursuing IMI funding.
BS: Yes! Together with a number of industrial and academ-
ic partners, we are well-positioned and ready to become the
anchor of an integrated photonics institute. UCF has launched
a state-supported $110 million consortium for advanced man-
ufacturing research. It is a partnership between the universi-
ty, the Osceola County government, the Florida High Tech
Corridor Council, Metro Orlando Economic Development
Commission, and Enterprise Florida. The consortium has re-
cently broken ground on a new high-tech manufacturing facil-
ity near Kissimmee, with an emphasis on smart sensors, both
electronic and optical. Additional state support is expected.
MC: CREOL has encouraged entrepreneurship since its
founding. What has been the outcome?
BS: Since we started 27 years ago, CREOL faculty have created 25 startups. The University has a strong incubation program and a research park, and CREOL hosts five incubated
companies. A key ingredient for our success is our strong coupling with industry. We collaborate and partner with industry members on their technical needs.
We have a consortium of industrial affiliates, and we partner with the Florida Photonics Cluster and the Florida High-tech Corridor Council, which funds research projects driven
by industry. A good portion of our external funding comes
from, or through, industry. Beyond entrepreneurship, our principal function is to educate and train the workforce to aid the
development of knowledge- and technology-based industries
MC: What is your vision for CREOL going forward?
BS: After many years of state budget cuts, state funding has
improved and the university is now supporting the addition of
new faculty lines to shape the future of the college. This will
give us an opportunity to grow in photonic sensing and imaging, nanophotonics, biophotonics, ultrafast optics, and lasers
in manufacturing. All of these areas are directly or indirectly
related to the initiatives in integrated-photonic advanced manufacturing and to optoelectronic smart sensors.
I also expect a stronger role for optics and photonics in
medical and biological applications fostered by collaborative
research with the College of Medicine. This growth is expected
to attract more students, more funding, and stronger partnership with industry.
The photonics field is generating greater public and government awareness, which is expected to fuel future growth.
CREOL, being one of only three colleges to offer a comprehensive program, is in a strong position to lead and support
strong growth in photonics technology.
Our aim is to stretch the limits of what
optics can do, for example, the lowest
noise, the greatest power, and so on.