2016 SPIE Technology Award

Kent Choquette receives SPIE Technology Achievement Award.

01 July 2016

SPIE Fellow Kent D. Choquette, the Bliss Professor of Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), is the recipient of the 2016 SPIE Technology Achievement Award. Choquette is recognized for contributions to the development of high-performance vertical-cavity, surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), particularly the invention of the oxide-confined VCSEL, widely used in data-communication optical links for data centers, supercomputer applications, and the Internet.

Choquette’s oxide-confined VCSEL employs an oxide aperture within a semiconductor mirror produced by leveraging the selectivity of AlGaAs alloys to oxidation in a manner that enables superior laser reliability. This innovation has been adopted worldwide for industrial production and several applications.

Choquette’s research has advanced VCSEL performance to include low operating current, high power conversion efficiency, high digital-modulation speed, and controlled polarization.

“Based on his contributions, VCSELs have evolved from laboratory curiosities into an optoelectronic industry producing more than 100 million VCSELs annually,” said SPIE Fellow James Coleman, professor of electrical engineering at University of Texas at Dallas (USA) and recipient of the 2011 SPIE Technology Achievement Award.

As a result of Choquette’s achievements, fiber-optic communication systems have been deployed for inexpensive and high-volume exchange of information including financial records, Internet traffic, medical imaging, and cloud computing.

“Consider that every computer mouse, data center, or supercomputer contains from one to millions of the practical oxide-confined VCSELs as a critical element,” Coleman said.

Choquette has cochaired or served on the technical program committee of the VCSEL conference at SPIE Photonics West for the past 20 years and has cochaired or served on the technical committees of 25 SPIE conferences in North America, Europe, and Asia. He is the current president of the IEEE Photonics Society.

The SPIE Technology Achievement Award recognizes outstanding technical accomplishment in optics, electro-optics, photonic engineering, or imaging. Choquette will receive the award in August at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego.


SPIE annual awardsFor nearly six decades, SPIE has presented annual awards to recognize significant achievements and contributions in advancing the science of light.

Look for other stories about award recipients for 2016 in this issue and the October edition of SPIE Professional.

Nominations for the 2017 SPIE awards were due 1 June and will be announced in January 2017 or earlier.

More information: spie.org/awards.

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