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Recent News


Tackling the 12 ‘Herculean Tasks’ of Quantum Optics

June 14, 2018

Twisted lightThomas Brown and Robert Boyd, professors of optics, are among the authors of a new survey of the biggest scientific challenges and questions in the field of quantum optics.


Guo and Vorobyev Receive T.C. Graham Prize

June 4, 2018

Guo and VorobyevChunlei Guo, professor of optics, and senior scientist Anatoliy Vorobyev, have received the 2017 T.C. Graham Prize from the Association for Iron and Steel Technology for their use of femtosecond laser pulses to etch metal surfaces.


Xu Awarded SPIE Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship

May 17, 2018

Photo of Di XuDi Xu has been awarded a 2018 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, for her potential contributions to the field of optics, photonics or related field.


Jannick Rolland Honored as Influential Woman Pioneer in Augmented and Virtual Reality

March 21, 2018

Photo of Ian Walmsley by Carlos StroudAs part of Women’s History Month, the Augmented World Expo (AWE) is celebrating eight of the world’s top AR+VR women visionaries.  Among those honored is Professor Jannick Rolland, Director of the Center for Freeform Optics (CeFO).  Jannick received this recognition for her inspiring work in the field of optics which has helped pave the way for today’s women in XR.  Read more here.


Former Institute Director Now Imperial College Provost

March 10, 2018

Photo of Ian Walmsley by Carlos StroudFormer Institute professor and director Ian Walmsley was recently appointed Provost of Imperial College, London.  Professor Walmsley studied quantum information, entanglement and quantum encryption at Rochester and remains an expert and asset to the field.


Institute Professor Marciante Joins with FemtoRoc Corp on Massive Laser Project

March 9, 2018

A 2-inch lens capable of multi-kiloWatt laser powerJohn Marciante, associate professor of optics, has undertaken a joint research project with FemtoRoc Corp. The goal is to develop more powerful lasers that will make it commercially viable to change the surface of metals in incredible ways, so they are super water-repellent, for example. The project, expected to take six years, has a research budget estimated at $10 million. This would enable technology developed by Chunlei Guo, professor of optics, and Anatoliy Vorobyev, a senior scientist, to be used for a host of applications, including de-icing of commercial airplanes and large trucks, rust and corrosion prevention of exposed metal surfaces, and cleaner, anti-microbial surfaces for surgical and medical facilities.


Institute Professor Duncan Moore Wins Bryand Award

March 8, 2018

Photo of Ian Walmsley by Carlos StroudThe Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineering Award is given each year by the University of Maine’s College of Engineering to recognize an individual, outside the University, who has brought distinction to the profession of engineering. 

It is appropriate that Duncan Moore, the Rudolf Kingslake Professor of Optical Engineering at Rochester, is the 2017 recipient of the award.

Moore, after all, is a native of Maine, who received his undergraduate degree in physics and an honorary doctorate from the University of Maine.

And he has certainly “brought distinction to the profession of engineering” – at many levels of service.

As a researcher, Moore is an expert in gradient-index optics, computer-aided design, and the manufacture of optical systems.


Cutting-Edge Science Leads to Cut-Free Biopsies

January 10, 2018

Lens and laser source from an optical-coherence microscopy deviceDespite advances in microsurgery, it can still be difficult to tell if a skin cancer has been entirely removed without a follow-up biopsy, which could require a patient to come back for a second operation.

But what if the biopsy could be performed noninvasively as part of the initial procedure, so the surgeon would know immediately whether additional cancerous tissue needed to be removed?

A novel optical device to do just that moved a step closer to commercialization recently. LighTopTech, a University of Rochester spinoff, was one of 10 startups to advance to the next phase of a competition sponsored by the accelerator Luminate, “the world's largest start-up accelerator program for optics, photonics and imaging technologies,” according to a press release from the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.


Device Creates Negative Mass and Novel Lasers

January 10, 2018

Lens and laser source from an optical-coherence microscopy deviceMost objects react in predictable ways when force is applied to them—unless they have “negative mass.” And then they react exactly opposite from what you would expect.


Institute Professor Xi-Cheng Zhang Wins Humboldt Research Award

January 10, 2018

Lens and laser source from an optical-coherence microscopy deviceTwo University of Rochester faculty members—William Jones of the Department of Chemistry and Xi-Cheng Zhang of the Institute of Optics—have received prestigious Humboldt Research Awards. The awards will enable them to spend up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany.


Professor Wayne Knox Elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

January 9, 2018

Prof. Wayne Knox wearing goggles to prevent eye damage from lasersA professor of optics at the University of Rochester, Knox has been awarded a slew of patents – 50 in the US, and another 150 or so worldwide. Most recently, he co-invented a potentially game-changing way of correcting vision by noninvasively modifying the cornea with femtosecond lasers. It also works with contact lenses and intra-ocular lenses.


Institute Alum Alex Gaeta: Distinguished Researcher and Tennis Champion

December 14, 2017

Alex GaetaOptics alumnus Alex Gaeta, a graduate of the Institute of Optics (’83, ’85M, ’91PhD), has major achievements not only in optics, but also as a former tennis player on the University of Rochester's NCAA Division III tennis team. Gaeta, a former graduate student of Professor Robert Boyd of the Institute of Optics is now the David M. Rickey Professor of Applied Physics and of Materials Science at Columbia University.


Rochester’s Connections to Optics Express, Now Celebrating 20 Years

November 20, 2017

Then and Now: At left, what Optics Express looked like when a reader linked to the first issue via Netscape. At right: A recent cover of Optics Express


Chunlei Guo Awarded a $1.5 Million Gates Foundation Grant for Laser Materials Processing

November 7, 2017


Professor Robert Boyd Co-authors "Ultraslow Waves" in Science

October 30, 2017

Robert Boyd in his labProfessor Robert Boyd of the Institute of Optics is co-author of an article, along with Kosmas L. Tsakmakidis (UC Berkeley), Ortwin Hess (Imperial College London), and Xiang Zhang (UC Berkeley), titled “Ultraslow Waves on the Nanoscale,” in the October 20th issue of Science. The authors conclude that “The broadband, ultraslow-wave regime in subdiffraction-limited nanostructures is essentially a new regime for nanophotonics, acoustics, and 2D materials, as in all three fields we have been accustomed to using fast propagating waves for diverse operations and devices.  Many surprises are waiting to be revealed and further exciting applications to emerge in this new regime.” You can read the article here.


Professor Julie Bentley Co-Chairs SPIE Optifab 2017

October 23, 2017

Julie BentleyJulie Bentley, associate professor of optics, was co-chair of Optifab 2017, North America’s largest optical manufacturing conference and exhibition, with 2,000 attendees and 186 exhibiting companies. The conference was held in Rochester October 16-19.


Professor Nick Vamivakas Named OSA Fellow

October 23, 2017

Nick VamivakasNick Vamivakas is the latest member of The Institute of Optics to be named a fellow of the Optical Society (OSA).


Institute Professor Tom Brown Wins Goergen Teaching Award

October 17, 2017

Thomas BrownProfessor Thomas G. Brown was one of three 2017 winners of the Goergen Teaching Awards.  The Goergen Awards are named for University Trustee and Board Chair Emeritus Robert Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, who created an endowed fund in 1997 to establish and provide ongoing support for the awards. In 2010, the Goergen Awards program was redesigned to make larger awards focused exclusively on excellence in undergraduate teaching by individual faculty members.


Institute Alum Stephen Fantone to Become OSA President

October 10, 2017

Stephen FantoneIn 2020, Institute alum Stephen Fantone ‘79 (PhD) will become the 23rd president of the Optical Society (OSA) who has ties to the University of Rochester.
This includes 21 alumni and current or former faculty members of the Institute of Optics, representing about a quarter of OSA’s 85 presidents since the organization was formed in 1916.
OSA founders were part of the advisory committee that led to the creation of the Institute of Optics as the nation’s first academic program in optics. The Institute has granted nearly half of all optics degrees in the United States, and many of its faculty and alumni have played key leadership roles in OSA.
“The past presidents of the OSA read like a who's who of optics,” says Scott Carney, director of the Institute.
Fantone, president and founder of Optikos Corporation, was recently elected by the membership to be OSA vice president for 2018, meaning he will serve as president elect in 2019 and president in 2020. Fantone, a recognized expert in optical engineering and optical product development, has been awarded more than 65 patents. He is a fellow of OSA, which he has served in several leadership roles, and is a senior lecturer in the mechanical engineering department at MIT.
    He is recipient of the Hajim School Distinguished Alumnus Award (2009) and the University of Rochester Distinguished Scholar Award (2015).  Read more here.

Other OSA presidents with ties to the Institute include:

2013: Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD), now associate professor at the University of Waterloo.
2011: J. Christopher Dainty, an associate professor from 1978 to 1984 at the Institute, past chair of applied physics at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
2010: James C. Wyant ’68 (MS), ’69 (PhD), Founding dean of the College of Optical Sciences at University of Arizona, and recipient of the Hajim School Distinguished Alumni Award.
2007: Joseph H. Eberly, Andrew Carnegie Professor of Physics and professor of optics, founding editor-in-chief of Optics Express.
2005: Susan Houde-Walter ’83 (MS), ’87 (PhD), faculty member from 1987 to 2005, reaching rank of full professor; now co-founder, CEO, and chair of the board, LaserMax Inc.
2003: G. Michael Morris, scientist from 1979 to 1982 and professor 1982-2001, currently CEO and co-founder of RPC Photonics Inc.
1996: Duncan T. Moore ’74 (PhD), the Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor of Optical Engineering, vice provost for entrepreneurship, and former director of the Institute.
1978: Emil Wolf, Wilson Professor of Optical Physics.
1973: Robert E. Hopkins ’39 (MS) ’45 (PhD), “father of optical engineering,” former professor and director of the Institute and co-founder of Tropel Inc.
1970: W. Lewis Hyde, faculty member from 1963 to 1968, later provost of New York University.
1962: David L. MacAdam, professor from 1975 to 1995.
1951-52: Brian O’Brien, professor, 1930 to 1955, and director, 1934-1954.
1947-48: Rudolf Kingslake, faculty member 1929-1937.


Optics Win

October 5, 2017

Nick Kochan and Max BruggemanPhD students Nicholas Kochan (left) and Maximillian Bruggeman (right) of the Institute of Optics received individual awards for their entries in the 2017 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition.  Their projects were part of the design class taught by Professor Julie Bentley.  Now in its 18th year, the annual competition is open to students in North America working toward a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree who use Synopsys CODE V or LightTools software to perform optical design and engineering research.


Terahertz Waves

September 11, 2017

Prof. Xi-Cheng ZhangXi-Cheng Zhang and his team at the Institute of Optics, Capital Normal University in China and ITMO University in Russia have achieved something that was, until now, thought impossible—producing terahertz (THz) light waves using liquid water.  THz waves, also known as sub-millimeter waves, are used in astronomy, communications, and even to see through objects without the use of ionizing x-ray radiation.


New Faculty

September 10, 2017

Prof. William Renninger William Renninger has joined The Institute of Optics as an assistant professor after serving as an associate research scientist and postdoctoral associate in the Department of Applied Physics at Yale University.  William, who received his PhD at Cornell University in 2012, studies experimental nonlinear optics to explore the ways in which light and matter interact, as well as to identify and develop successful commercialized technologies.  Read more about Professor Renninger's research here.


Institute Researchers Light the Way with Freeform Optics

August 8, 2017

Jacob ReimersIn a recent paper in Light: Science & Applications, University of Rochester researchers Jannick Rolland and Jacob Reimers describe an optical device with potential applications ranging from improved satellite and diagnostic imagery to more precisely matching the paint color on a living room wall.


Industrial Associates Opens Doors for Optics Students

August 1, 2017

Rebecca SilverIt was a pivotal moment for Michelle Relin. Then a junior at The Institute of Optics, she “snuck out of a lab” to hear a presentation by recruiters from Edmund Optics during a fall meeting of the Industrial Associates (IA) – nearly 40 leading optics companies that partner with the Institute.


The Kevin P. Thompson Optical Design Innovator Award is Endowed

July 19, 2017

Kevin P. ThompsonThe late Kevin Thompson, who served as a visiting scientist at The Institute of Optics, has been honored by The Optical Society, which has named a new award in his honor.  Kevin was a leading expert in understanding the aberration fields of a new class of nonsymmetric optical systems using freeform optical surfaces.  The Kevin P. Thompson Optical Design Innovator Award will recognize contributions to optical engineering, lens design, or metrology at an early career stage.  Learn more about the award and OSA’s fundraising campaign. 


Boyd Team's Theory Predicts a Way Around Bandwidth Limit

July 19, 2017

Prof. Robert BoydA new publication in Science by a team including The Institute's Prof. Robert Boyd uses electromagnetic theory to predict a means to surpass a bandwidth limit for "high-Q systems."  The "quality," or "Q," of a system represents how easily the system can absorb energy at its natural resonant frequency.  According to the article, higher-Q systems have narrower bandwidth--a narrower range of frequency over which they can absorb energy--but this range may be broader in "asymmetric systems."  The abstract (and full text for AAAS members) is here.


High School Students Explore and Create at the 2017 Photon Camp

July 18, 2017

High school student presenting her poster.Local high school students had a fun and educational week at the 2017 Photon Camp.  Photon Camp is a free, one-week program where rising high school juniors and seniors can explore the growing field of optics and optical engineering.  Students spend the week attending faculty lectures, visiting local optics industry sites, and working in the Institute of Optics laboratories.


The Institute Welcomes a New Director

June 27, 2017

Director Scott CarneyOn July 1st, Scott Carney, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will take over as the 11th director of The Institute of Optics.  (Including interims, a total of 15 have served.)  The outgoing director, Xi-Cheng Zhang, will remain on the faculty as the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics.  Carney earned his PhD in physics at Rochester studying with Emil Wolf, the Wilson Professor of Optical Physics and Professor of Optics.


Rolland Excels as Researcher, Mentor, and Leader

June 1, 2017

Jannick RollandPassionate. Forceful. Creative. Effective.

These are the adjectives that help explain why Jannick Rolland is the 2017 recipient of the Edmund A. Hajim Outstanding Faculty Award.

Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering, joined the Institute of Optics in 2009.

Since then, she has:

• Helped shape the Robert E. Hopkins Center for Optical Engineering, which she has directed since 2012. It is now a shared instrumentation facility that promotes collaboration across departments, and recruits diverse undergraduates from optics and mechanical and chemical engineering into its research.

• Spearheaded the 2013 creation of the Center for Freeform Optics (CeFO), which she directs and which now has 16 corporate and research laboratory members. CeFO, a joint venture with UNC-Charlotte, brings the universities and companies together at the precompetitive research stage of a game-changing new technology. Freeform optics uses lenses and mirrors in a range of shapes to deliver increasingly compact, lightweight and easily targetable optical devices.

• Co-founded and is CTO of LighTopTech, which she launched in 2013 with Cristina Canavesi, based on high definition volumetric microscopy Canavesi helped develop in the Rolland lab. A liquid lens refocuses at different depths inside samples to obtain high-resolution volumetric images of materials. This allows medical professionals to rapidly and noninvasively image subcellular structures beneath the surface of the skin or within the human eye. It can also capture details inside materials to monitor the quality of manufacturing processes.

• “Produced some of the very best students,” says Xi-Cheng Zhang, director of the Institute of Optics and M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics. For example, Kyle Fuerschbach, one of her graduate students, was awarded the 2014 outstanding dissertation award in the Hajim School for pioneering work in freeform optics.

“The Hajim Outstanding Faculty Award is a perfect recognition for Prof. Rolland’s contributions,” Zhang says.


Doctoral Student Wins Kidger Award

May 18, 2017

Jonathan PapaCongratulations to University of Rochester PhD student Jonathan Papa, recipient of the 2017 Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship Award. This prestigious award recognizes Papa's outstanding achievement in optical design. Papa is currently in his third year as a, now qualified, PhD student at The Institute of Optics, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences under the tutelage of Prof. Jannick Rolland, Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering.


Institute Graduate Justin Schultz Wins 2017 Dissertation Award

May 3, 2017

Justin SchultzJustin Schultz, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute, was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Dissertation Award for Engineering at the University of Rochester.  In addition to the recognition of an outstanding dissertation is a monetary award of $1000.  Schultz was advised by Professor Nicholas Bigelow of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute of Optics.  His dissertation research was in the field of Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs).


Institute Startup Highlighted in Science Coalition Report

April 26, 2017

Krystel Huxlin and Wayne KnoxA new report from the Science Coalition, “American-Made Innovation Sparking Economic Growth,” highlights one of the many ways investments in basic scientific research benefits the overall economy: the formation of new companies.   One of the startups featured in the report, Clerio Vision, was founded in 2014 by Researchers Wayne Knox (right) and Jon Ellis with the Institute of Optics, and Krystel Huxlin (left) with the Flaum Eye Institute in the Medical Center.


Jonathan Ellis Wins Major NSF Award for Freeform Optics

April 17, 2017

Jonathan EllisProfessor Jonathan Ellis of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Institute of Optics,  and the Center for Freeform Optics was recently awarded an NSF CAREER award in the amount of $500,000. The award is part of the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. “The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.1”  Prof. Ellis’s proposal was on “Breaking the freeform optics metrology barrier with synthetic wavelength interferometry.” The project will empower optical designers and manufacturers with metrology methodologies that can measure advanced freeform optics.


Femtosecond Video Imaging

March 30, 2017

Electron microscope images of a metal surfaceInstitute of Optics researchers Chunlei Guo, Anatoliy Vorobyev, and Ranran Fang have developed a technique to create video images of the changes on a metal surface as they are bombarded by femtosecond laser pulses.


2016 - The year in review

January 3, 2017

Waving the Institute flag at commencement 20162016 has been a year of achievement with research awards, fellowships, special workshops, and even sporting events.  As we begin 2017 with excitement, the Institute Director, Xi-Cheng Zhang, reflects on the many exciting events of 2016:


Researchers Explore Regeneration in Critical Layer of Cornea

December 12, 2016

3D image of a human corneaOn the back side of the cornea is a single layer of cells that play an all-important role, maintaining just the right fluid balance to keep the cornea transparent so light can enter the eye.


Undergraduate David Lippman Learns Optics and Culture in Germany

December 5, 2016

David Lippman, class of 2018Undergraduate David Lippman ’18 of The Institute of Optics spent this past summer as an intern at Arnold & Richter Cine Technik (ARRI) in Munich, Germany.  The 100-year-old company engineers and manufactures movie cameras, lenses, lights, and other motion picture technology.  David was able to do both lab research and computer programming — and came back with some new ideas about what he might do with his career.  Read more here.


Robert Boyd Named IEEE Fellow

November 28, 2016

Robert Boyd demonstrating the Robert Boyd, professor of optics, has been elevated to Fellow of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the world’s largest association of technical professionals.  The distinction is reserved for select IEEE members for extraordinary accomplishments in their field.  Boyd’s citation is for contributions to the fields of nonlinear optics and photonics.  Professor Boyd is also a fellow of the Optical Society of America and a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Professor Boyd joined the faculty of the Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester in 1977 and is presently Professor of Optics and Professor of Physics.  He has published approximately 350 research papers, holds nine US patents and has supervised the PhD theses of 33 students.

In 2010, Boyd was awarded a highly competitive Canada Excellence Research Chair at the University of Ottawa.  He currently directs a major research center at the University of Ottawa while still maintaining a significant research presence at the University of Rochester.

He received a bachelor of science degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1977 received a PhD degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.  His PhD thesis work was supervised by Professor Charles Townes and involves the use of nonlinear optical techniques for infrared detection.


Stronger Terahertz Waves Allow Safer Detection of Hidden Objects

September 1, 2016

Terahertz waves penetrate a teapotKang Liu, a PhD student in optics, and Xi-Cheng Zhang, the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics and director of the Institute of Optics, collaborated with Tzortzakis Stelios' group in Greece on an ingenious way to extend the "reach" of terahertz waves with an unconventional laser beam, called a ring-Airy beam. “It makes possible the remote sensing of chemical, biological, and explosive materials from a standoff distance,” Xi-Cheng explains, making this a promising tool for Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies. Read more here.


A Welcome from the Director

August 30, 2016

Xi-Cheng Zhang, Director of the InstituteAs we start the 2016 fall semester, it is my pleasure to welcome all new and returning students, faculty, staff and members of The Institute.  The Institute of Optics was founded in 1929 as the first Optics education program in the United States of America. Here we continue to educate generations of leaders in the ever-growing field of Optics, and provide unparalleled advancements through research. Whether you are new, or a returning member of The Institute, I congratulate you on the decision to pursue your dreams and aspirations here. While you are here, The Institute of Optics is your home, and you will now always be a part of a strong academic community.


Professor Nick Vamivakas Awarded Tenure

August 30, 2016

Nick studied electrical engineering at Boston University and received his PhD in 2007.  During this time he developed high resolution microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to study the electro-optic properties of individual nanostructures.  Following his PhD, he was a postdoctoral fellow from 2007-2011 in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.


'Optical spring' detects single molecules

August 30, 2016

Image from the Yu et al. paper.


High School Students Explore and Create at the 2016 Photon Camp

July 19, 2016

High school student presenting her poster.Local high school students had a fun and educational week at the 2016 Photon Camp.  Photon Camp is a free, one-week program where rising high school juniors and seniors can explore the growing field of optics and optical engineering.  Students spend the week attending faculty lectures, visiting local optics industry sites, and working in the Institute of Optics laboratories.


Mandel Fellowship Awarded to Nick Vamivakas for Quantum Optics

July 14, 2016

Professor Nick Vamivakas in his labProf. Nick Vamivakas has been awarded the two-year Leonard Mandel Faculty Fellowship from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, where Nick has a secondary appointment.  This fellowship was founded in honor of Professor Leonard Mandel (1927 — 2001) by many of his former students and colleagues worldwide.  It recognizes excellent work on the topics within quantum and classical optics which were most important to Mandel, with the goal of encouraging more work, especially among our junior faculty.


Master’s Program Propelled Amy Frantz's Career in New Directions

July 8, 2016

Amy FrantzWhile pursuing a master’s degree at The Institute of Optics, Amy Frantz learned real-world skills -- and made connections that landed her a job with a leading producer of optics, imaging and photonics technology.