Rochester Institute of Technology professor Jie Qiao is the general co-chair of the international conference on Ultrafast Optics UFO X taking place in Beijing, China, from Aug. 16 to 21.
Ultrafast optics uses short optical pulses that can provide higher intensity than a continuous wave of light. High-energy lasers can weld, cut and polish glass and other materials. The technology enables integrated photonics and integrated optoelectronics—that combine or bond different materials. Ultrafast optics holds the potential to advance additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, and free-form optics that go beyond traditional spherical shapes.
“Optics is the enabling technology right now for cutting-edge research in telecommunication, energy, environmental sensing and optical displays,” said Qiao, associate professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. “Ultrafast lasers can transform the way optical components are being manufactured, leading to a cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly solution for fabricating integrated photonics, freeform optics, micro-optics and optoelectronic packaging.”
Global interest in ultrafast optics has increased participation in the 10th international Ultrafast Optics conference that Qiao helped organized. The biennial event is expected to draw 200 scientists from 20 countries. This year marks the first time the conference has been held in China, which has a growing presence in optics research and development.
Qiao’s leadership role in the international conference and her presentation, “Ultrafast polishing of silicon-based materials”—co-authored with RIT imaging science Ph.D. student Lauren Taylor—help put RIT on the map for ultrafast optics research and associated technologies.
Qiao’s Advanced Optical Fabrication, Instrumentation and Metrology Laboratory at RIT’s Center for Imaging Science produces fundamental research on theoretical modeling and experimental demonstrations of ultrafast lasers and materials interaction. Her other lines of research include an optical differentiation wavefront sensor for freeform metrology and phase imaging, and coherent phasing of segmented large-scale gratings for next-generation telescopes or laser systems.
Qiao gained her reputation in the field of ultrafast optics in 2007 with landmark research at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, where she developed an efficient optical system that produced high-energy, picosecond pulses. Qiao used three half-meter segmented gratings—optical components that control the travel path of different wavelengths of light—to compress high-intensity lasers pulses in a segmented optical system that works like a 1.5-meter, continuous system. Her research appeared in the high-impact journals Optics Letters and Optics Express. Qiao’s solution is now standard technology in high-energy laser optics.