John Ballato: Fiber materials bring new capabilities to lasers

The need to get more intense light through a fiber creates problems that call for new approaches. This lab at Clemson tackles the challenge.

26 April 2016

John Ballato is the Sirrine Endowed Chair in Optical Fiber and professor of materials science and engineering at Clemson University (Clemson, SC USA). Among numerous other honors, his collaborative work on Anderson-localizing optical fiber was chosen as one of Physics World's Top Ten Breakthroughs for 2014. Ballato holds 33 U.S. and foreign patents, has co-founded three startup companies, and has published more than 325 technical articles, including more than 60 with SPIE. Ballato is a Fellow of SPIE, the Optical Society (OSA), and the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) as well as being an elected member of the World Academy of Ceramics and the US National Academy of Inventors. He served as co-chair of the Fiber Lasers: Technology, Systems, and Applications conference at SPIE Photonics West in 2015, and as chair in 2016.

Ballato's work is focused on the optical and optoelectronic properties of materials, and his innovations span a wide range of technologies relating to optical fiber, lasers, and light-emitting structures. Over the past decade, his work has particularly focused on the materials from which optical fibers and fiber-based lasers are made and developing materials that mitigate the performance-limiting effects that occur at high power levels. His optical fiber lab at Clemson is one of only a handful of academic labs around the world with a complete industry-level capability to manufacture specialty optical fiber. He can be reached at

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