2018 – a recap

Six months since my last update! Thought I’d do a quick stream-of-consciousness start-of-the-year recap of what happened for the rest of 2018.

June-July:

Fast-tracked my Silicon Photonics skills by signing up to Lukas’s fabulous edX course, with a final grade of 98%:

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I missed out on the top mark by dropping the ball on some of those early homework questions. How embarrassing.

 

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Dusted off the ol’ pulse-picker (PSIMO Pulse Picker OG8-25-1, which hadn’t been used since about 2008..) and eventually got it to work (a hidden fuse had blown.) This quick video shows me rotating the half waveplate – you can see the pulses being “picked” from 80MHz to ~100Hz. Goodbye thermal effects! Our visiting student Hugo Boiron got some nice preliminary z-scan measurements on gold nanofilms (thanks Hugo!), and more is on the way.

I also drew the official logo for the University of Sydney Early- and Mid- Career Researcher Network (PhysCREAM):

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Notice the cream on the shirt and head.

August-September

Started developing the new Physics Interdisciplinary Course (Phys3888) with friend and superstar Dr. Ben Fulcher. I’m curating the interdisciplinary laboratory portion of the course, which will include elements of neurophysics and data science. Really looking forward to getting this up and running later this year, I’ll make sure to include more info here as we progress.

I was also invited to the 14th Australia-China Symposium in Changchun – that’s me on the right there.

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A delightful trip with many great Australian and Chinese physicists! The facilities there are outstanding.

I gave a few of the third year optics lectures/tutorials with Prof. Martijn de Sterke, and learnt a few things in the process. I look forward to doing more this year. On a related note, I also accepted the offer to teach the Advanced Optics and Photonics honours course with Prof. Ben Eggleton and A/Prof. Stefano Palomba in 2019. So that’s three courses I’ll be heavily involved in this year…

I was the successful recipient of the Research Facilities Access Grant ($3500), to help cover the cost of clean room usage. Thanks also to this contribution, I completed all my clean-room training at the Sydney Nano Research and Prototype Foundry, and started collaborating with Dr. Alvaro Casas Bedoya and Dr. Mortiz Merklein (aka. “Team silicon photonics”) towards developing low-loss silicon waveguides. We’re making good progress, but still some room for improvement – 2019 here we come!

October-November

Late last year we finally made our first on-chip plasmonic nano-structures. A lot of design and fabrication effort went into this, but we got there eventually – all as part of Mr. Oliver Bickerton’s honours project. Now that we have this in place, there’s so much that can be done…! Watch this space. And speaking of which, our Oliver Bickerton successfully finished honours year! Congratulations Oliver, thanks for all your hard work.

While this was happening I was working on a couple of papers which…

December

…both got accepted in the same month.

1) A. Tuniz, H. Schneidewind, J. Dellith, S. Weidlich, and M. A. Schmidtet al., “Nanoapertures without Nanolithography”, ACS Photonics (2018).

 

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Some of the data in this paper was taken just before I left Jena. It took a lot of work to do the modelling and some follow-up experimental characterization, it was worth it – we show a simple way of making metal nanoapertures on a fiber without any kind of lithographic step, and also provide some important guidelines. This work was also presented here at the University of Sydney as part of the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science “Impact Fest”.

2) V. Ng, A. Tuniz, J. Dawes, and C. Martijn de Sterke, “Insights from a systematic study of crosstalk in adiabatic couplers”, OSA Continuum (in production).

This one was just accepted (no hyperlink yet), and comes from a collaboration with our good friends at Macquarie University. This theoretical/numerical work is particularly enjoyable, and we’re learning a lot about adiabatic mode conversion. Even though one of the first papers to look at this topic thoroughly (at least for optical waveguides) was published in 1955, this systematic study shows that there’s still quite a lot to be understood.

It’s the first time I publish in either of these journals (unsurprisingly, also because 2018 was the inaugural year of OSA continuum.)

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December also featured Oliver presented his honours work at the AIP congress. Michelle Wang, co-supervised last summer with international media sensation Dr. Birgit Stiller, also presented a poster on Brillouin Plasmonics. Looking forward to working more on this.

Finally I should also mention that, thanks to the successful grant applications of several distinguished colleagues, we have had two amazing pieces of equipment come in this year: the first is the super-fast-and-very-impressive TeraK15 terahertz time-domain-spectroscopy system (its speed and compactness puts our old system to shame), and the other is the neaSNOM microscope, which will finally let us do our own complete near-field characterization of nanophotonic devices. Side by side, these two behemoths give us insane experimental characterization capabilities.

This is by no means an exhaustive summary – other things are happening, with much of it getting lost in the excitement. I’m really looking forward to 2019!