Travel Notes: Gauthier and Greenberg to Hawaii

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The 2009 Optical Society of America Conference in Hawaii In mid-July, Professor Daniel Gauthier, chair of the Duke Physics Department, and Joel Greenberg, a fourth-year PhD graduate student, traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, to present papers at the Optics & Photonics Congress hosted by the Optical Society of America. Greenberg presented the paper, Superfluorescence in an Ultracold Vapor, about an aspect of the search for a nonlinear optical system activated by a single photon, and Gauthier presented Stored Light and Photonic Signal Processing via Stimulated Brillouin Scattering.

The conference was divided into three topical meetings and Gauthier co-chaired the Nonlinear Optics meeting.  “We would like to be able to realize nonlinear systems actuated by a single photon because it would make it possible to develop new technological devices,” Greenberg says. “From a physics standpoint, the task is not simple, so we need to be creative and find the most sensitive nonlinear optical system possible. I’m using a system of cold atoms as a tool.” Greenberg says using supercold (and superslow) atoms allows him to have some control of the placement of the atoms in the system. Gauthier presented his paper as part of the Slow and Fast Light meeting, and also served as program co-chair for the Nonlinear Optics meeting. He says there were a number of inspiring presentations in Nonlinear Optics, including one on “plasmonics” (using nanoscale metal structures to enhance optical fields) and another on converting single photons from one wavelength to another; these are both areas that Gauthier’s group is moving into. “This is an exciting time for the field and there are new results coming out each year,” he says.