Monday 29 November 2010

Delivering Photonics to Transform the New Information Age – Smaller, Faster and Energy Efficient

Professor Ben Eggleton, CUDOS, The University of Sydney

The importance to 21st-century economies of a fast and efficient Internet was acknowledged in 2009 by the Australian Government’s decision to build the National Broadband Network (NBN). The key technology behind the Internet is photonics—the science of generating, transmitting, processing and detecting light. Going far beyond the optical fibres which merely transfer light, photonics has the capability to transform all areas of modern society that rely on information transfer. In biology, photonics interrogates molecular structures and can provide information critical to human health and environmental sustainability; photons from distant galaxies carry information that can reveal the origins of the Universe; and the quantum properties of photons promise new information systems with impenetrable security.

Photonic signal processing is the key to opening up technological opportunities in all of these areas. CUDOS has played a pivotal role in demonstrating ground-breaking integrated photonic signal processors that can massively increase the information capacity of the Internet, bringing us within reach of breathtaking capabilities that will transform almost every facet of the information society and economy.

This major advance in bandwidth is the first of three essential goals we must achieve for photonics to become the defining technology for the coming century. The second challenge is to miniaturise photonic devices so they can be incorporated into more complex circuits, bringing increased funct­ionality, cost-efficient manufacture and widespread application. Our third goal is to make phot­­onic processors energy-efficient, to restrain the increasing amounts of energy consumed by the Internet.

CUDOS will tackle the breakthrough science and engineering to address these overarching goals—miniaturisation and energy efficiency—by creating compact photonic processing platforms for advanced applications. Critical to realising these goals will be nonlinear optics, the use of materials whose optical response depends on light intensity, and nanophotonics, the application of light in nanometre-scale structures, a key frontier in photonics. Combining these two fields promises dramatic improvements in our ability to generate, control and confine light, and will be the route to compact, energy-efficient photonic processors.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
  • Venue: Long Room, Customs House at Riverside
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, and Professor Eggleton will be available to answer any questions
  • Questions? Contact Andrew (



Benjamin J. Eggleton is an ARC Federation Fellow and Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney and is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh-Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS). He obtained the Bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of Sydney. In 1996, he joined Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies as a Member of Staff and was subsequently promoted to Research Director within the Specialty Fibre Business Division of Bell Laboratories, where he was engaged in forward-looking research supporting Lucent Technologies business in optical fibre devices.

Since 2003, he has been the founding director of CUDOS, Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Photonics which spans seven universities and more than 100 researchers. His vision of a photonic chip that will enable the Internet to transfer vast amounts of data with significant energy savings brought together a team of national and international scientists that achieved world-first demonstrations of photonic-chip-based ultrafast photonic processing.

Eggleton has published more than 270 journal publications, including articles in Nature Photonics, Nature Physics, Physical Review Letters and he has filed over 35 patents. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, IEEE and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Eggleton has received numerous awards for his contributions, including the 2010 Scopus Young Researcher of the year award in the Physical Sciences category, the 2008 NSW Physicist of the Year medal, the 2007 Pawsey Medal from the Australian Academy of Science, the 2004 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, the 2003 International Commission on Optics (ICO) Prize, the 1998 Adolph Lomb Medal from the Optical Society of America, the Distinguished Lecturer Award from the IEEE/LEOS, and the R&D100 Award. He was President of the Australian Optical Society from 2008-2010 and is Editor for Optics Communications.


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