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

Then and Now: At left, what Optics Express looked like when a reader
accessed the first issue via Netscape. At right, a recent issue.

“Most Optics Express authors don't know and couldn't care when it was invented, but it had to start somehow,” writes Joseph Eberly, the journal’s founding editor in chief and the Andrew Carnegie Professor of Physics and professor of optics at the University of Rochester.

“It was the first. There were no previous examples of a regularly published, peer-reviewed, open access journal in the physical sciences.”

Optics Express, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is an all-electronic, open-access journal providing rapid publication for peer-reviewed articles that emphasize scientific and technological innovations in all aspects of optics and photonics.  It also publishes papers dedicated to new developments in the science and engineering of light and their impact on sustainable energy, the environment, and green technologies.

“The journal has had a strong University of Rochester connection ever since its founding,” notes Scott Carney, director of The Institute of Optics. “Some of the most cited papers in Optics Express have been authored by Rochester faculty.”

Among the journal’s 100 most cited articles are:

6. Focusing of high numerical aperture cylindrical-vector beams, co-authored by Thomas Brown, professor of optics, who also was one of the original associate editors of the journal
26. All-normal-dispersion femtosecond fiber laser, co-authored by William Renninger, assistant professor of optics (while at Cornell University)
29. Nonlinear optical phenomena in silicon waveguides: Modeling and applications, co-authored by Govind P. Agrawal, the James C. Wyant Professor of Optics
90. Two-dimensional silicon photonic crystal based biosensing platform for protein detection by Mindy Lee, then a PhD student and doctoral researcher in optics, and Philippe M. Fauchet, then professor of electrical and computer engineering
96. Spectral dependence of single molecule fluorescence enhancement, by Palash Bharadwaj, then a PhD student in physics, and Lukas Novotny, then assistant professor of optics at the Institute

In addition to Brown, current Institute of Optics faculty members Govind Agrawal, Miguel Alonso, Julie Bentley, and Chunlei Guo have served as associate editors, as has Christophe Dorrer, a senior scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and James C. Wyant, ’69 (PhD optics), a University Trustee and generous supporter of the Institute.

There was a great deal of concern as to whether anyone would submit papers “to a journal of a type no one had ever seen before,” Eberly recalls in his article describing the trials, tribulations, and ultimately triumphs in launching what was then a revolutionary approach to scholarly publishing.

And yet, Carlos Stroud, professor of optics, and J.A. West of the Institute authored one of the six papers in the first edition. Current faculty member and former Institute director Wayne Knox, then director of the Advanced Photonic Research Department at Bell Labs, co-authored another.

Optics Express now publishes more than 3,000 articles and 30,000 pages per year and is ranked #2 among Google Scholar’s top publications in optics & photonics.