Fibre optics pioneer to present at Photonics West symposium

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Professor Roger Stolen has been selected to present at a symposium at SPIE Photonics West in February, titled ‘Pioneers of Fibre Optics’. Since 1941, Stolen has been involved in many aspects of fibre optics research, especially fibre nonlinear optics, fibre measurements, novel fibres and fibre components, and has made significant contributions to the fibre optic field.

Stolen was chosen to speak at the session by a committee of 20 global experts in optical fibre. His history of work includes 30 years working for Bell Labs, one of the world’s foremost technology research institutes, where he was part of the team that first observed optical solitons. These are ultra-short pulses that travel great distances without dispersion, and play an important role in modern high-capacity optical communication systems. Since 1971, Stolen has been involved in most aspects of fibre optics research, especially fibre nonlinear optics, fibre measurements, novel fibres and fibre components.

Stolen received a Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in solid state physics from the University of California at Berkley in the USA, followed by post-doctoral work at the University of Toronto in Canada. In 2006, he joined the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA.

In 1990, he was awarded the Optical Society of America's (OSA) R.W. Wood Prize in recognition of pioneering studies in optical fibres, and in 2005 he received the Institute of Electrical Engineers/OSA John Tyndall Award for contributions that include the identification and understanding of the alteration in frequency and in the phase of light passing through a transparent optical fibre.

Stolen was also inducted into the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2009 and the National Academy of Engineering in 2011 for his contributions to fibre nonlinear optics and invention of polarisation preserving fibre.

‘Dr Stolen's invitation to present during this session is a very significant honour,’ said John Ballato, director and professor at COMSET. ‘This presentation gives Stolen, and therefore the Clemson optics community, the visibility and an added opportunity to collaborate with some of the world's decision-makers in the field of optics.’

Jointly honoured with Stolen through this symposium is Don Keck, Corning scientist, and Sir David Payne, professor and director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton in the UK.

Keck led the team responsible for obtaining the first high-transparency optical fibre, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993 and received the National Medal of Technology in 2000 from President Clinton.

Payne is the inventor of the erbium-doped fibre amplifier, which complements the fibre and permits the light to cross oceans uninterrupted. He is a member of the Royal Society and was knighted by the Queen of England earlier this year.