Colloquia & Guest Speakers

Structuring light to reveal the invisible

Eileen Otte, Postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Mark L. Brongersma at the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials (GLAM), Stanford University

Wednesday, November 1, 2023
3:30 p.m.

Presented in-person in Goergen 101 and on Zoom

Zoom Information

Meeting ID: 952 7674 7247
Passcode: 964579


From quantum physics to cosmology, researchers aim to see things which are typically invisible – be it the entanglement of two particles or infrared signatures from space. In these and various other fields, we are confronted by a common challenge: What we can see with our own eyes or observe using standard optical imaging systems is limited to a small fraction of the information that the detected light actually carries. Two-dimensional (2D), flat images, such as a photo, only reveal the intensity and visible color of the light coming to us from an optical scene. However, light contains a wealth of information on the three-dimensional (3D) position, angle of incidence, spectral content, amplitude, phase, polarization, optical angular momenta, and coherence, amongst others. In fact, if light interacts with media, nature will give us structured light that is spatially varying in the named properties in a fashion that depends on the interaction. In this talk, I will present how we can use these kinds of structured light fields to extract information from an optical scene and, vice versa, how structured light can serve as an excitation or probing tool to gain access to usually invisible information. In this context, we will explore “optical vortices” in phase and polarization, their generation, and application. Moreover, we will gain insights into the nanoscale features of structured light and its leading role for next-generation imaging techniques.


Headshot of Eileen Otte.
Eileen Otte

Eileen Otte is a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Mark L. Brongersma at the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials (GLAM), Stanford University, USA, supported by the GLAM fellowship (Stanford) as well as the DAAD PRIME program. Her research expertise spans various areas of photonics and related fields including structured light; topological, singular, and quantum optics; light-matter interactions and optical trapping; nanophotonics and metamaterials; and advanced imaging with diverse applications. After completing her M.Sc. degree with distinction, she specialized in structured singular light in her PhD studies. She performed her research at the University of Muenster (WWU), Germany, as well as the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Cornelia Denz and Prof. Dr. Andrew Forbes. In 2019 she finished her Ph.D., honored with "summa cum laude" and the WWU Dissertation Award in Physics, and published in the Springer Theses series. She has also received the Research Award 2020 of the Industrial Club Duesseldorf, is a junior class member of the NRW Academy of Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts, and was listed among the Emerging Leaders 2021 and Emerging Talents 2021 of IOP’s Journal of Optics. In 2021, Eileen moved to Stanford, where she is focusing on nanoscale light-matter interactions.