Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

Materials Science Research Lecture

Wednesday May 24, 2017 4:00 PM

Arbitrary and Reconfigurable Optics

Speaker: David Miller, Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
Location: Spalding Laboratory 106 (Hartley Memorial Seminar Room)

Abstract: Historically, optics was based on materials formed into regular shapes, such as a lens, mirror, or grating, but neither these approaches nor recent extensions like metamaterials are "universal" – we did not know, for example, how to perform many "legal" optical operations, such as separating arbitrary overlapping "orthogonal" light beams without loss. Recently work, however, shows how to break down any legal linear optical component into a mesh of two-beam interferometers [1,2]. Surprisingly, there is even a way to have such a mesh design itself, without any calculations, opening up a new field of self-configuring, self-correcting, and self-stabilizing optics [1,2], and these meshes are well-suited to silicon photonics implementations. Potential applications include mode multiplexing/demultiplexing in telecommunications, self-aligning beam couplers, automatic tracking of targets, automatically finding the best channels through a scattering optical system, networks for quantum applications, and many others. This different way of looking at optics has also led to a surprising fundamental advance in rewriting and extending Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation [3]. The talk will introduce these ideas and related new directions in optics.

[1] D. A. B. Miller, "Self-configuring universal linear optical component," Photon. Res. 1, 1-15 (2013)

[2] D. A. B. Miller, "Sorting out light," Science 347, 1423-1424 (2015)

[3] D. A. B. Miller, L. Zhu, and S. Fan, "Universal modal radiation laws for all thermal emitters," PNAS 2017; published ahead of print April 10, 2017,

Biography: David Miller is the W. M. Keck Professor of Electrical Engineering and a Professor by Courtesy of Applied Physics at Stanford University. Following his B. Sc. in Physics from St. Andrews University, he received his Ph. D in Physics from Heriot-Watt University in 1979. Before moving to Stanford in 1996, he was with Bell Laboratories from 1981 to 1996, as a department head from 1987. His interests include nanophotonics, quantum-well optoelectronics, and optics in information sensing, interconnects, and processing. He has published more than 270 scientific papers, a quantum mechanics text, and 73 patents, was President of IEEE LEOS (now Photonics Society) in 1995, has received several awards, is a Fellow of APS, OSA, IEEE, the Electromagnetics Academy, the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, holds two Honorary Doctorates, and is a Member of the US National Academies of Sciences and of Engineering.

Series Materials Research Lecture Series

Contact: Jennifer Blankenship at 626-395-8124