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SPIE expands ICTP support with funding for new research capability

16 March 2009

BELLINGHAM, Wash., USA -- SPIE has expanded its support of optics and photonics education in developing countries through the funding of a new research initiative on quantum cascade lasers (QCL) at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy.

SPIE provided $30,000 in project support in 2008, beginning a three-year commitment at this level toward the QCL research capability. ICTP funds also will support the project.

The new research and SPIE's continued support of the ICTP's annual Winter College in Optics both have been inspired by the late Gallieno Denardo, longtime dirK. R. Sreenivasan and Zohra Ben Lakhdarector of optics activities at ICTP, said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

"We see ICTP as an important leader in attempts to develop scientific infrastructure in parts of the world where these are currently weak," Dr. Arthurs said. "Gallieno Denardo promoted optics as an accessible and affordable modern science for countries with limited scientific infrastructure."

The Winter College in Optics was one result of Denardo's vision, as were his efforts to provide opportunities for students from developing areas to participate in competetive research in optics at ICTP, Arthurs said.

The QCL research project was developed with the strong backing of ICTP Director Prof. K. R. Sreenivasan and will be implemented by Denardo's successor, Dr. Joe Niemela.

The research will be done in collaboration with INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nuclear) and led by Dr. Andrea Vacchi of INFN Trieste and ICTP, in collaboration with Institute for Nanoelectronics, Technische Universität München (TUM). Dr. Giancarlo Raiteri, from the Univ. of Trieste and ICTP, will mimic part of the QCL work at the TUM.

“When the laboratory in Trieste is complete, the project will be available for participants from developing nations,” Arthurs said. “We are hopeful that this will seed high level and challenging optical research, particularly within centers in Africa.”

Laura Mihai, SPIE President Maria Yzuel, Pimrapat Thanusutiyaporn

Winter College on environmental science

For the 2009 Winter College in Optics in February, 100 students from developing countries traveled to Trieste to learn about optics in environmental science.

SPIE President María Yzuel and Arthurs met with students, and Prof. Yzuel presented Prof. Zohra Ben Lakhdar, director of the Laboratory of Atomic-Molecular Spectroscopy and Applications at the University of Tunis, with her promotion certificate as a new SPIE Fellow.

"The students are very motivated to learn cutting-edge science and technologies, and to establish valuable networking among each other and with the teachers of the College and members of TSOSA representing their scientific societies," Yzuel said. "I heard from them about the difficulties that exist in some countries for developing education and research in optics, and suggestions about how SPIE could support these activities. I am proud of the support that SPIE provides to these students through the Winter College and ICTP."

Yzuel serves on the ICTP's Trieste System Optical Sciences and Applications TSOSA Advisory Group, of which SPIE and other scientific societies are members. The group advises ICTP on the annual Winter College on Optics, a two-week course for students primarily developing countries. The group has chosen Optics and Energy as the topic for the 2010 Winter College.

The Winter College for Optics is supported by SPIE, the Optical Society of America, the ICO (International Commission for Optics), the Societa Italiana di Ottica e Fotonica and the EOS, with major support from the Central European Initiative, UNESCO, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Photo captions, from top, above:

ICTP Director K. R. Sreenivasan congratulates new SPIE Fellow Zohra Ben Lakhdar.

SPIE President María Yzuel, center, with Winter College students Laura Mihai from Romania, at left, and Pimrapat Thanusutiyaporn from Thailand.

SPIE is the international optics and photonics society, founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. In 2008, the Society provided $1.9 million for scholarships, grants, and other activities supporting research and education around the world. For more information, visit SPIE.org.

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