As the year draws to a close, thought I’d provide a small update with some (non-exhaustive) 2020 highlights: a representative selection of events that played a part in this unusual year.

January/February: Work proceeds as normal. Quite the highlight, given what follows.

March: The course I am co-coordinating, Phys3888 (and its Data3888 partner) moves online with the rest of the world – particularly challenging for an experimental multidisciplinary course such as this. Thanks to the amazing work of colleagues Ben Fulcher and Jean Yang, and our life-saving tutors Alison Wong and Zoe Stawyskyj, I think this transition worked out incredibly well.

May: “Modular nonlinear hybrid plasmonic circuit” is published in Nature Communications – I proposed this work as Oliver Bickerton’s Honours Project all the way back in 2018, great to see it picked up by a few news sites.

June: My DECRA begins, and I become director of the Sydney Terahertz Laboratory – currently installing a few upgrades! For a quick virtual lab tour, I made a silly video.

July: I have the pleasure of giving an MQ Photonics seminar on my recent research – thanks Mikolaj and Judith for the invitation!

August: I give two virtual contributed talks and one poster at CLEO Pac Rim 2020 in its online-only format, on the topics of effective PT-symmetries and fiber plasmonics, the nonlinear coefficient of lossy waveguides, and measurements of the nonlinear response of gold. On a related note, “Pulse length dependent near-infrared ultrafast nonlinearity of gold by self-phase modulation” is published in APL – this work used background-free self-phase modulation to measure the nonlinear susceptibility as a function of pulse duration in the sub-picosecond range.

September: “Establishing the nonlinear coefficient for extremely lossy waveguides” is published in Optics Letters. There are a few analytical expressions for the nonlinear coefficient in lossy plasmonic waveguides, and as part of Gordon Li’s honours project (he’s now PhD student at Caltech), we compared them with full simulations and established which one works best.

I also give a (virtual) invited talk at EOSAM 2020, “Crossing the exceptional point in a fiber-plasmonic waveguide.”

October: “Scalable Functionalization of Optical Fibers Using Atomically Thin Semiconductors” is published in Advanced Materials. The product of a German-Australian collaboration led by Falk Eilenberger from the IAP (Jena), this work shows that semiconducting 2D-Materials can be integrated into microstructured optical fibers in a scalable process. This opens the path towards new applications in quantum enhanced sensing and nonlinear optics. They even made a sexy image that was selected for the inside back cover…

I co-organize and host the 2nd SEMCAN Viral Bytes competition (see the many entries on our Twitter page), and take the opportunity to start a YouTube Channel and upload a few example viral videos with the complicity friend and colleague Andrew Grant.

November: “Omnidirectional field enhancements drive giant nonlinearities in epsilon-near-zero waveguides” is published in Optics Letters. This work followed from the second part of Gordon’s honours project. We took a close look at where the largest nonlinearities are expected for epsilon-near-zero waveguides, to guide future experiments. Some more pleasant news followed – Ben Fulcher and I where honoured with the Faculty of Science Award for Outstanding Early Career Teaching! Sincere thank yous to everyone who played a part.

December: “On-chip Hybrid plasmonics goes modular” was published in OPN’s Optics in 2020 highlights. I also hosted a Sydney Nano Meet the Author online seminar with friends and collaborators Mohammad Valashani and Amandeep Kaur before wrapping up for the year.

And as a final bit of good news for this year, I am happy to have been promoted to Senior Lecturer (Level C).

Ready for 2021.