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Sunday Plenary features two optics giants

Sunday evening's opening plenary session of the SPIE Optics + Photonics symposium kicked off what promises to be an exciting week in San Diego. Introduced by SPIE President Maryellen Giger, SPIE Gold Medal winners, SPIE Fellows, and optics legends Paul B. Corkum and Federico Capasso held their audience spellbound during the dynamic hour.

Paul Corkum presents at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2018

Attosecond pioneer Corkum gave an overview of attosecond pulses generated from gases and solids, beginning with the specifics of how a re-collision electron process works, and moving on to examining the ionization of an atom through the lens of both classical physics and quantum mechanics: "Attosecond-pulse production from a quantum perspective creates a quantum antenna, an electron interferometer."

With the latest attosecond developments, Corkum showed, "we have the spatial, temporal, and field resolution to probe electronics or biology," emphasizing the versatility of the technology. He wrapped up with a quick look at the 25-year history of re-collision which includes extending a 50-year tradition of ultrafast science, improving time-resolved experiments by more than two orders of magnitude; extending a 50-year tradition of nonlinear optics; building on a 100-year tradition of X-ray science and integrated X-rays and laser physics; and influencing the 100-year tradition of collision science by offering time resolution.

Federico Capasso presents at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2018

Federico Capasso, the father of bandgap engineering and co-inventor of the QCL, gave a talk entitled "Metasurface Flat Optics: Unifying Semiconductor Manufacturing and Lens Making."

He began with a vision for planar ("flat") optics with comprehensive, far-reaching goals: a CMOS compatible flat optics platform for high-volume markets - cameras, displays, and wearable optics - and a wide range of optical components (lenses, holograms, polarizers, phase plates) for use with machine vision, biomedical imaging, scientific applications, drones, polarimetry laser lithography, and OEM markets.

In a discussion that included an examination of Fresnel/binary optics vs. metasurface-based optics, Capasso highlighted the transformative properties of metalenses and the multi-functionality inherent in flat optics utilizing a hybrid metalens design.

The goal is very ambitious, he said, but there is a "constellation of companies" working with silicon chips and lenses: "What if we could combine the semiconducting and the optics parts? In the future, we will have optic foundries. The applications possibilities are very large." Heralding the next step in miniaturizing spectrometers, Capasso predicted that current developments will "change the way we do refractive optics. Merging the chip industry and the lens-making industry will be game-changing."