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5 August 2016

UCSB professor and integrated photonics expert John Bowers receives 2017 IEEE Photonics Award

John Bowers, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of materials at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), has been selected to receive the 2017 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Photonics Award. Bowers is the first faculty member from UCSB to receive the honor, which recognizes his "pioneering research in silicon photonics, including hybrid silicon lasers, photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and ultra-low-loss waveguides".

"Silicon photonics has the potential to revolutionize photonics and electronics by enabling low-cost, high-volume manufacturing of optical interconnects with a path toward embedding high-capacity fiber optics on circuit boards and eventually on electronic chips," says Bowers, who holds the Fred Kavli Chair in Nanotechnology at UCSB and is director of the campus's Institute for Energy Efficiency. Bowers has focused his expertise on silicon photonics and optoelectronics, with the goals of developing energy-efficient technology for the next generation of optical networks.

Picture: John Bowers and postdoctoral researcher Tin Komljenovic with a wafer of integrated photonic circuitry to be manufactured by AIM. Photo Credit: Sonia Fernandez.

"The IEEE Photonics Award is the most prestigious recognition of contributions to the field of photonics and optics," notes Rod Alferness, dean of the UCSB College of Engineering, who received an IEEE Photonics Award in 2005, before coming to UCSB. "John Bowers' work in integrated silicon photonics is leading the way to the future of electronics and telecommunications," he comments.

As the demand for bandwidth increases — thanks to the proliferation of computers, mobile devices, smart technology and apps — so will the strain on existing communications infrastructure, notes UCSB. Steps have been taken over the last couple of decades to provide the kind of speed, capacity and processing necessary to manage the wave of data generated every day in the form of optic and photonic technology — the use of light to transmit information.

But with new technology comes greater demand. Mobile devices are on the rise, along with data-intensive apps, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). To satisfy both capacity and performance requirements, optics and photonics must be more deeply integrated into electronics and telecoms systems. However, fiber optics uses indium phosphide (InP) wafers and foundries, which is incompatible with electronics' silicon wafers and foundries.

The answer lies in integrating optics and electronics on the same chip so that the electrical signal is converted into an optical one without equalization, says UCSB. This is a process in which Bowers has been investigating heavily both in his research and also as director for the West Coast center for AIM Photonics, a federally funded manufacturing consortium that was established to boost photonics manufacturing and create more skilled, high-tech jobs in the USA.

Bowers, who came to UCSB in 1987, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors, and a fellow of the IEEE, Optical Society of America (OSA) and the American Physical Society. Also, he is a recipient of the OSA Holonyak Prize and the IEEE LEOS William Streifer Award. In addition, he and colleagues received the 2007 Annual Creativity in Electronics Award for Most Promising Technology for the hybrid silicon laser.

Tags: III-Vs-on-Si silicon photonics

Visit: http://optoelectronics.ece.ucsb.edu/profile/john-bowers

Visit: www.aimphotonics.com

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