Summer Course in Photonics a Success

September 1, 2003

Pratt’s Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communications Systems sponsored its inaugural “Summer Course in Photonics” on July 29-30, in the Teer building on Duke’s campus. The event drew more than 70 Duke students and faculty for two days of lectures and socializing.

“We are very pleased with this year’s course,” said David Brady, director of Pratt’s Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communication Systems. “The attendance was far greater than we expected, and next year we plan to include more technical people from outside Duke.”

Bob Guenther from Duke’s Department of Physics kicked off the course with a photonics primer, reviewing the fundamental physics principles that would be the basis for discussion throughout the course. Using easily grasped examples such as oil on a wet street and a camera lens, Guenther discussed light wave propagation, interference, coherence, diffraction, and intensity, and the technologies used to observe and measure light.

Stephanos Venakides from Duke’s Department of Mathematics presented an introductory lecture on photonic crystals that included both theory and ideas for crystal optimization. Venakides then discussed his own work on numerical computational methods, analytic characterization, and photonic crystal slab resonance optimization.

Henry Everitt, Physics, discussed the emerging revolution in information processing resulting from the merging of quantum mechanical law and information science. He described quantum cryptography, quantum teleportation, and quantum computing as three examples of what he calls an “explosive, multidisciplinary field with the potential to change our notion of information security.”

Everitt briefly discussed the history of cryptography and cryptanalysis and the fundamentals of quantum information. He then elaborated on the potential impact on, threat to, and solution for information security posed by quantum information. The discussion included operating principles of quantum key distribution, quantum teleportation, quantum information storage, quantum information processing, and quantum error correction.

Dan Gauthier, Physics, reviewed the origin of the nonlinear optical materials response that results when high power laser beams shine on glasses and crystals. He then illustrated how nonlinear optical methods are used in practical devices such as a compact all-solid-state green laser light created using second harmonic generation. He also described how the nonlinear refractive index could be used to generate optical solutions for ultra-high speed telecommunication networks.

Stojan Radic from Pratt’s Department of Electrical and Computer engineering discussed erbium-doped and Raman fiber optical amplification technologies. Radic used a basic two-level erbium model to describe design, operation and performance of single- and multiple-stage erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) modules. He then discussed advanced techniques that include average inversion modeling to illustrate practical device construction. Radic compared the physics, performance and limitation of distributed Raman amplification to conventional EDFA technology and discussed new amplification technologies he predicts will play a role in future communication systems.

Brady finished the course off with a discussion of multimodal sensors. He began his lecture with a brief history of optical sensors; tomography; interferometry; space, sampling, digitization and the sensor family tree, and ended with a discussion of current Duke Integrated Sensing and Processing (DISP) sensor projects. DISP projects include reference structure tomography and multimodal multiplex spectroscopy. For more information see

“This course is an opportunity for us to convey the excitement and possibilities of photonics to students and faculty in other departments,” said Guenther, associate director of education for the Fitzpatrick Center. “Our hope is to expand this to bring in industry and open up opportunities for collaborations, student internships and jobs for our graduates.”

Photos of the event and most of the presentations are available on the Fitzpatrick Web. If you would like to join the mailing list for Fitzpatrick Center courses and events, please visit our Mailing Lists site.