FreQomb: Optical Frequency Combs Workshop 2023

About the event

The 3rd International AiPT Workshop FreQomb: Optical Frequency Combs will bring together leading researchers in the field of optical frequency combs science and technology to discuss its fundamentals, applications, and future opportunities. The topics covered include the recent development of innovative sources based on lasers, waveguides and microresonators, novel nonlinear dynamics effects in optical resonators, and diverse applications of optical frequency combs in astronomy, quantum technologies, and photonic computing. The Workshop is chaired by Dr Gabriella Gardosi.

Date: 29 November – 1 December, 2023
Venue: Aston University & Priory Rooms Conference Centre. In-person only event!

The workshop organisation was supported by Aston University Research Impact Fund, EPSRC project EP/W002868/1 TOPTICA Photonics and Lambda Photometrics.

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Speakers and Talks

Prof Kerry Vahala. Caltech, USA.
Next Generation Frequency Microcombs and Applications

Kerry Vahala has pioneered nonlinear optics in high-Q optical micro resonators. His research group has launched many of the areas of study in this field and invented optical resonators that hold the record for highest optical Q on a semiconductor chip. Vahala has applied these devices to a wide range of nonlinear phenomena and applications. This includes the first demonstration of parametric oscillation and cascaded four-wave mixing in a micro cavity – the central regeneration mechanisms for frequency micro combs; electro-optical frequency division – used in the most stable commercial K-band oscillators; and the first observation of dynamic back action in cavity optomechanical systems. His micro-resonator devices are used at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in chip-based optical clocks and frequency synthesizers. They have also been used at the Keck II observatory in Hawaii as miniature astrocombs in the search for exoplanets. Vahala’s current research is focused on the application of high-Q optical micro resonators to miniature precision metrology systems as well as monolithic optical gyroscopes. Professor Vahala was also involved in the early effort to develop quantum-well lasers for optical communications. That work formed the basis for nearly all of today’s high-speed semiconductor laser design for lightwave high-speed telecommunications, particularly in the metropolitan and local-area arena.

Prof Jérôme Faist. ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Quantum walk frequency combs

Jérôme Faist was born in Geneva, and obtained his Bachelor and Ph.D. in Physics, in the group of Prof. F.-K Reinhart from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne in 1985, 1989 respectively. After a post-​doc in IBM Rueschlikon (89-​91), he joined F. Capasso’s group in Bell Laboratories in 1991 where he worked first as a post-​doc and then as a Member of Technical Staff. From 1997 to 2007, he was professor in the physics institute of the University of Neuchâtel. In 2007, he became professor in the institute for quantum electronics of the ETH Zurich.

His central role in the invention and first demonstration of the quantum cascade (QC) laser in 1994 was recognised by the IEE premium (1995), the IEEE/LEOS William Streifer award (1998), the Michael Lunn award (1999), the ISCS “Young scientist award” (1999), and the Swiss National Latsis Prize (2003).

His present interests are the development of high performance QC lasers in the Mid and Far-​infrared and the physics of coherence in intersubband transitions in the presence of strong magnetic fields.

Dr Jonathan Silver. NPL, UK
A microcomb soliton crystal pattern fitting algorithm

Jonathan Silver is a Senior Research Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, where he heads a team researching microresonator-based frequency combs, or microcombs. He is currently funded by the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing to develop integrated self-referenced microcombs for portable optical clocks and radar, in collaboration with the Universities of Glasgow and Southampton. Jonathan joined NPL in 2015 to work with Pascal Del’Haye on optical microresonators and microcombs after completing a PhD in ultracold atoms at the universities of Cambridge and Bonn, Germany. From 2018 to 2020, he held a Royal Academy of Engineering UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship hosted by City, University of London, during which time he continued to work at NPL as a Visiting Researcher. He took over the leadership of the team when Pascal moved to Germany in 2019. He grew up in London and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

Prof Marco Piccardo. Instituto Superior Tecnico Lisbon, Portugal
A journey in ring quantum cascade lasers: From phase turbulence to driven solitons on a laser chip

Marco Piccardo is an incoming Assistant Professor in the Physics Department of Técnico Lisboa, a Principal Investigator at INESC Microsystems and Nanotechnologies, and an Associate Researcher at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Harvard University. He received his BSc. in Physics from Università degli Studi di Torino, and a MSc. in Physics from Ecole Normale Superieure and Ecole Polytechnique. He obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from Ecole Polytechnique in 2016 working on the fundamental electronic processes responsible for the efficiency drop of blue light-emitting diodes at high-current operation, such as Anderson localization and Auger recombination. His postdoctoral research in the group of Federico Capasso at Harvard University focused on integrated laser frequency combs, while his subsequent activity as Researcher and Team Leader at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia studied metasurface-enhanced active and passive photonic cavities.

He is the recipient of the Young Physicist Award “G. F. Bassani” of the Italian Physical Society, and laureate of the PhD Award “Innovative Materials and Applications” of the Université Paris-Saclay. He holds around 40 publications, in journals including Nature, Science, Nature Photonics, PNAS, Nature Communications and Physical Review Letters, and holds 5 patent applications in photonics.

Prof Harald Schwefel. University of Otago, New Zealand
Electro-optic (dual) frequency combs: getting towards visible results

Harald Schwefel began his physics training in Germany at the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus. In 1998 he began graduate study at Yale University, USA where he received the PhD in theoretical physics in 2004 on the topic of chaotic dielectric resonators. Following a short stay in Japan, Harald Schwefel established himself as an experimental physicist and later group leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Germany. In September 2015 he joined the Department of Physics at the University of Otago and have reestablished his laboratory there.

Dr Nicolas Englebert. Caltech, USA
Solitons in low-finesse, high-gain resonators

Nicolas comes from Brussels, where he received a master’s degree in Physics Engineering from the ULB in 2018. Four years later, with the support of an individual fellowship from the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research, Nicolas defended his thesis entitled “Temporal solitons in coherently driven fiber resonators”, carried out in the OPERA-Photonic group under the supervision of Professors Simon-Pierre Gorza and François Leo. His doctoral research has been rewarded with several prizes, notably the Nokia Bell Labs Scientific Award 2022. After a year of postdoctoral research in Brussels, Nicolas joined the Nonlinear Photonics Laboratory led by Prof. Alireza Maradi at Caltech as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Research Fellow and a BAEF individual fellow. His research focus on cavity soliton and frequency comb formation in integrated quadratic resonators. Beyond physics, Nicolas is passionate about hiking, cycling and baking!

Prof Arnan Mitchell. ARC Centre of Excellence in Optical Microcombs for Breakthrough Science (COMBS), School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Centre of Excellence in Optical Microcombs for Breakthrough Science:
microcomb technology to unlock a new wave of photonic solutions

Professor Arnan Mitchell is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Engineering at RMIT University, Director of the RMIT Micro Nano Research Facility (MNRF) and is Director of the recently Announced ARC Centre of Excellence for Optical Microcombs for Breakthrough Science (COMBS). He has published more than 700 research papers including publications in Science, Nature, Nature Medicine and Nature Photonics among many others. He is a senior member of the IEEE, SPIE and is a Fellow of Optica. He is a highly multidisciplinary researcher working in micro-chip technologies combining light, sound, fluids and electronics with applications spanning radar systems for defense, high speed fiber optic communications and point of care diagnostic systems for biomedicine. He is enthusiastic about translating technology into the hands of end-users and has dedicated much of his career to building and training diverse teams and comprehensive micro and nanotechnology infrastructure to enable breakthrough discoveries to achieve real world impact.

Prof Dmitry Skryabin. University of Bath, UK
Multimode and multioctave chi-2 photonics in microresonators

Dmitry Skryabin is fascinated by how light interacts with matter and enjoy the beauty and power of physics. His research focuses on the physics of ultrashort pulses, multi-mode complexity and frequency conversion in nonlinear photonic devices, e.g., in microresonators, waveguides, optical fibres, and semiconductors. Solitons in optics have always been a particular topic of his interest.

Dr Alexey Tikan. EPFL, Switzerland
Ultra-low loss Silicon nitride integrated photonics: from chipscale combs, Erbium amplifiers to frequency agile low noise lasers

Bio:Alexey Tikan obtained hisundergraduate degree in the framework of a joint program between Novosibirsk State University and École Polytechnique Paris and later completed PhD in the group of Prof. Pierre Suret and Prof. Stéphane Randoux at Laboratoire de Physique des Lasers, Atomes et Molécules (Lille, France). Hisresearch subject was related to the novel field of Integrable Turbulence that studies the dynamics of random waves in integrable nonlinear models. Experimentally, he has contributed to the development of a tool for single-shot detection of ultrafast optical fields which is considered until today to be the state-of-the-art.
Upon joining the Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements at EPFL, Alexey contribute to a project dedicated to the study of lattices of strongly coupled high-Q optical resonators.

Prof Radan Slavik. Southampton, UK
Optical Frequency Combs distribution via Hollow-core fibres

Prof Radan Slavik, Fellow of OPTICA, is Head of the Coherent Optica Signal research group in the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton, UK. He has a 25-year track record of research in the field of fibre optics and its applications in sensing and telecommunications, including last 10 years in researching practical aspects, characterization, and applications of hollow core optical fibres.

Ass. Prof Kiyoul Yang. Harward University, USA
Optical frequency combs on thin-film lithium niobate

Kiyoul Yang completed his Ph.D. at Caltech and Postdoc research at Stanford, and is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard. His research interest includes integrated photonics, nonlinear optics, and photonic inverse design. He is a recipient of DARPA Young Faculty Award (2023) and Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award (2020).

Prof Zhixin Liu. UCL, UK
Frequency comb to enable high-capacity and low-latency optical/wireless access networks

Zhixin Liu received his PhD degree in Information Engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and joined the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in 2013. In 2016, he joined the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at UCL as a lecturer and was promoted to associate professor in 2021.
His research interests include optical signal processing and its applications in communication systems and scientific instruments. He has pioneered frequency comb assisted data conversion and low-latency data communications that have led to several world’s first demonstrations. Dr Liu has co-authored more than 100 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and conferences with several high-profile papers and invited papers in top journals. He holds three patents, with two licenced to industrial companies. Dr Liu has been PI on over 10 grants from Industry and Research Councils. He is Co-I on the £6.1m EPSRC Programme grant TRANSNET.

Prof Scott Diddams, NIST, University of Colorado, USA
Frequency comb spectroscopy with coherent and incoherent light

Scott Diddams holds the Robert H. Davis Endowed Chair at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is also Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics. He carries out experimental research in the fields of precision spectroscopy and quantum metrology, nonlinear optics, microwave photonics and ultrafast lasers. Diddams received the Ph.D. degree from the University of New Mexico in 1996. From 1996 through 2000, he did postdoctoral work at JILA, NIST and the University of Colorado. Subsequently, Diddams was a Research Physicist, Group Leader, and Fellow at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology). In 2022 he transitioned to his present position where he also assumed the role of Faculty Director of the Quantum Engineering Initiative in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. As a postdoc Diddams built the first optical frequency combs in the lab of Nobel laureate John Hall, and throughout his career, he has pioneered the use of these powerful tools for optical clocks, tests of fundamental physics, novel spectroscopy, and astronomy. His research has been documented in more than 750 peer-reviewed publications, conference papers, and invited talks. The work of Dr. Diddams and his research group has been recognized by multiple awards. These include the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award, the Department of Commerce Gold and Silver Medals for “revolutionizing the way frequency is measured”, as well as the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), the C.E.K. Mees Medal from OPTICA (formerly OSA), the IEEE Photonics Society Laser Instrumentation Award, and the IEEE Rabi award. He is a Fellow of OPTICA and the American Physical Society, and a Senior Member of IEEE.

Prof Alessia Pasquazi, Loughborough University, UK
Self-emergence of laser cavity solitons in microcombs: the role of slow nonlinearity

Prof. Alessia Pasquazi earned her PhD in Engineering from the University of Roma Tre in 2009. She was a MELS fellow in Quebec, Canada from 2010 to 2011 and an EU Marie-Curie Fellow between 2013 and 2015. Additionally, she was an Ernest Rutherford Fellow from 2018 to 2022 and was recognized as an ERC Starting Grant Laureate for the period 2020 to 2024. Prof. Pasquazi’s expertise lies in the domain of nonlinear photonics and microcombs.

Specializing in nonlinear photonics and microcombs, Prof. Pasquazi has been at the forefront of advancing ultrafast integrated optics. She led research in ultrafast integrated optics at the EPic Lab at the University of Sussex from 2014 to 2022. Currently, she is at Loughborough University where she directs the Emergent Photonics Research Centre. Prof. Pasquazi actively contributes to the academic community, serving as a member and chair of panels for numerous conferences organized by SPIE, OPTICA, and IEEE societies. In particualr, she served as the program chair for the OSA ‘Nonlinear Photonics Conference’ in 2018 and was the general chair for the same conference in 2020.

Prof Benedikt Schwarz, TU Wien, Austria

Comb generation in semiconductor lasers with fast dynamics: From FM-combs to Nozaki-Bekki solitons

Benedikt Schwarz comes from Tyrol. He studied electrical engineering at the TU Wien and received his doctorate there in 2015 with a dissertation on the topic “Monolithic integration of mid-infrared photonics, opens an external URL in a new window” with Prof. Strasser. His previous scientific achievements have already been recognized with numerous prizes, including the BMWF honorary award, the Photonics21 Student Innovation Award, the INiTS Award and the FACSS Innovation Award. In 2020 he was also able to successfully submit an ERC Starting Grant, opens an external URL in a new window. This enabled him to successfully take up the career position “Modeling and realization of monolithic frequency combs”, which he has now completed with the qualification to associate professor. In 2020 he also obtained his Venia Docendi for the subject “Nanoelectronics and Photonics” with a habilitation thesis on the topic “Towards chip integrated mid-infrared spectrometers, opens an external URL in a new window”.

The scientific home of Benedikt Schwarz is the Research Unit of Optoelectronic Materials, opens an external URL in a new window (E362-01) at the Institute of Solid State Electronics. Here he researches, among other things, compact, portable and energy-saving laser sensors with which environmental pollutants and also diagnosable diseases can be detected.

Dr Benjamin Sprenger, Menlo Systems, Germany
Revolutionizing Precision Metrology: Advancements in Optical Frequency Comb Engineering

Benjamin Sprenger is a project manager at Menlo Systems and has been with the company for over eight years. He studied Physics and specialized in Optics and Photonics during his undergraduate studies at Imperial College London, followed by a PhD in laser physics focusing on stabilization of lasers using whispering gallery mode resonators at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, Germany. After a Postdoc in experimental quantum optics he joined Menlo Systems in 2015 with an emphasis on ultrastable lasers and optical frequency combs. After several years as a sales engineer he moved on to project management and as a specialist for quantum technology and metrology.

Prof Misha Sumetsky, Aston University, UK

Complete inelastic transparency of time-modulated resonant photonic circuits

Misha Sumetsky graduated from the Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, and has Ph.D. (1979) and D.Sc.(1989) degrees from the same University. He worked at the Physics Department of Saint-Petersburg University of Telecommunications (Russia) from 1979 till 1995 when he joined Bell Laboratories (USA). In 2001, Dr Sumetsky continued his research at OFS Labs after transition of the Optical Fiber Research Department of Bell Labs into the OFS Labs. In 2013, he joined the Aston Institute of Photonics Technologies as a Professor of Photonics. Prof Sumetsky is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the recipient of Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. He has more than 200 publications and more than 20 patents in optics and quantum mechanics. His present research interests are in optics of microresonators and nanophotonics.

Dr Auro Perego, Aston University, UK

Optical Frequency combs in passive fibre resonators: from macro towards micro

Dr Perego’s main research interests are at the interface of applied physics and photonic engineering.
These include the investigation of novel techniques for optical frequency combs generation in optical resonators and the physics of mode-locking in semiconductor and fibre lasers.
Other research interests include parametric amplification in nonlinear waveguides, optical sensing and the study of instabilities and solitons in photonic systems.
He is currently a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow – with a project on optical frequency combs – at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies – AIPT ( where he is building his independent research group.
Dr Perego received a BSc and a MSc in Physics from Università dell’Insubria (Como, Italy) and a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Aston University in 2018.

Ali Seer, Toptica, Germany
Ultrabroadband Frequency Comb with sub-3 kHz free-running Linewidths

Ali Seer is Team Manager R&D Laser Reference at TOPTICA Photonics AG, where he has dedicated over six years to advancing laser reference technologies. He holds a degree in Physics from the University of Konstanz, with a focus on Optics, Photonics and Pump-Probe Spectroscopy. Since joining TOPTICA, he has been deeply involved in the development of cutting-edge low-noise frequency combs based on mode-locked lasers and the system integration of phase-stabilized multicolor laser systems, specifically designed for applications in Frequency Metrology and Quantum Technology. Beyond his primary focus, Ali also has a keen interest in exploring the implementation of chip-based supercontinuum generation and photonic integrated circuits into turn-key systems.

Angelo Manetta, NKT Photonics, Denmark
Microcomb generation in the normal-dispersion regime

Angelo Manetta is currently a Research Scientist at NKT Photonics, where he works on the development of a novel microresonator-based frequency comb platform. He obtained his PhD in Quantum Optomechanics from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) under the supervision of Professor Ulrik Lund Andersen. He carried out his doctoral research at the Centre for Macroscopic Quantum States, on the topic of room-temperature feedback cooling of macroscopic mechanical resonators. He previously received a BSc in Physics and a MSc in Condensed Matter Physics from Sapienza, University of Rome. His research interests include optical frequency combs, optical sensing and quantum optics.

Dr Frank Smyth, Pilot Photonics, Ireland

Commercialising an Integrated Comb Laser

Frank Smyth is co-founder and CTO of Pilot Photonics Ltd, an Irish company developing unique optical comb lasers based on photonic integration. His previous position was as co-founder and Executive Director of the CONNECT Centre for Future Networks for which he helped secure significant research funding from Science Foundation Ireland and from Industry.

He graduated with a PhD from Dublin City University in 2009 having carried out pioneering research on novel tunable laser sources and optical switching systems. He held a scholarship position at Bell Laboratories, Crawford Hill, New Jersey, and a research fellowship at Dublin City University before founding Pilot Photonics in 2011. He has raised VC investment and research funding to develop its unique technology including the prestigious European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator award.

Frank has co-authored more than 95 research publications, contributed to six patent applications, and served as an expert reviewer in photonics and optical communication for the Journal of Lightwave Technology, and the European Commission. He currently serves as a member of the Industry Advisory Board of the CONNECT Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin.

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Organising Committee

Chair of the Workshop: Dr Gabriella Gardosi has been “breaking precision boundaries in optical microresonator fabrication”, having dedicated her efforts since 2017 to the SNAP (surface nanoscale axial photonics) technological platform invented by Professor Misha Sumetsky. Gardosi’s contributions have earned her a place among the notable individuals recognized in the “2023 Photonics100” by Electro Optics magazine. She obtained her PhD in Photonics at Aston university in 2022 and has just begun her Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

Natalia Manuilovich

Dr Auro Perego

Prof Sergei K. Turitsyn

Prof Misha Sumetsky

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