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Sensors and Devices

The Year of Light 2015 Light: Science, Applications and Impact


Research Background

The International Year of Light (IYoL) is a well established celebratory event in the UK and worldwide attracting communities of academics, industries and experts on the fields of quality optics and photonics. This year the IYoL event had a particular Welsh importance due to key facts that have enhanced its 10 years of delivery. Based on a proposal made by the European Physical Society that 2015 should be the International Year of Light (IYOL), the Photonics Academy for Wales at Bangor (PAWB) undertook to organise a series of events in Wales in support of the IYOL.

The Challenge

Nanolasers typically have optical cavities whose dimensions are of 1µm i.e. of the same order as the light emitted by the laser. A consequence of the small cavity size is that the spontaneous emission generated in the cavity is enhanced. We have explored in some detail the effects of this changed spontaneous emission and other device parameters on the behaviour of nanolasers. We have shown that nanolasers can exhibit:

  • Enhanced modulation bandwidth up to 90GHz when subject to optical injection
  • High resistance to dynamical instabilities2 when subject to external optical feedback3
  • Modulation bandwidths of order 30 GHz for both small and large signal modulation1
  • Wide stable locking regimes when subject to external optical injection4
  • Superior relative intensity noise (RIN) properties when subject to phase conjugate optical feedback5

Current Developments

Light plays a significant role in the Welsh economy and there was an expectation that industrial and commercial bodies will be ready to support and participate in ‘International Year of Light: Wales’. It is gratifying to report a positive response from several quarters – some of which were unforeseen. The organizations that took part and made a key contribution to the success of the event included: the Learned Society of Wales, Welsh Optoelectronics Forum, Photonics Academy for Wales, The National Museum of Wales amongst others.

20 events were held across Wales, exceeded its original target of one event per month. The event promulgated internationally including one presentation in China. Particular attention must be drawn to the IYOL Wales Launch. The event took place on the 5th February in the Pierhead Building, which is adjacent to the Welsh Senedd – the home of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.

The event was formally sponsored by Mrs Edwina Hart Welsh Government Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport. The launch event was addressed by Mrs Hart, Professor Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales ; Karin Burger of SPIE Europe ; Dr Louise Jones of the Knowledge Transfer Network and Dr Beth Taylor of the Institute of Physics who chairs the UK organising committee for the IYOL.


“Nano-lasers have superior dynamical properties which can be exploited in developing complex photonics integrated circuits.” Professor K Alan Shore


In addition to the journal papers below, results from the project, have also been disseminated at conferences in Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the US.

  • Z.A.Sattar and K. A. Shore, IEEE J Quant. Electron,52,1300108,2016
  • M.Sciamanna and K.A.Shore, Nature Photonics, 9,151-162,2015
  • Z. A. Sattar and K. A. Shore, IEEE J.Lightwave Tech.,33, 3028-3033,2015
  • Z. A. Sattar and K. A. Shore IEEE J.Selec.Topics in Quantum Electronics,21, 1800106,2015
  • Z.A.Sattar and K.A.Shore, IEEE J Quant.Electron.,52, 1100108, 2016
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Case Study Contacts

Professor K Alan Shore
Advanced Sensors and Devices
March 2016