Optics innovation creates a wave of sales
9 April 2013
An optics innovation created by postdoctoral researcher, Dr Jochen Schroeder, from the School of Physics and CUDOS, is a technology transfer success story, creating a wave of sales for Finisar, the Australian company that has used the new technology in their latest WaveShaper product.
The new technology has made Dr Schroeder the winner of the Innovation Prize from CUDOS - the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems - celebrating Australian innovations in optics and photonics.
Dr Schroeder has created and applied a new functionality for Finisar's range of WaveShaper Programmable Optical Processors that allows light to be split in extremely sophisticated ways, making the liquid crystal on silicon optical chip within the WaveShaper act as multiple optical circuits - a bit like circuit boards in traditional electronics.
The new technique allows for four optical fibre outputs on each optical chip, creating reconfigurable light outputs. This innovation has extended the use of the WaveShaper product to encompass the functionality required for the development of the next generation of telecommunications systems as well as enabling Finisar to address additional markets in research laboratories.
"It's great to see the techniques I developed being used in the Finisar WaveShaper and seeing my work have a real impact in the industry," said Dr Schroeder.
"The new technology is particularly useful for researchers and developers of optical communication systems, as it enables more thorough system testing as well as reduced development time for optical components and systems.
"The technique lets us vary how we split light on the optical chips, so we can reconfigure the splitting for different wavelengths of light," explained Dr Schroeder.
Director of CUDOS, Professor Ben Eggleton, who is also in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, is extremely pleased with the success of Dr Schroeder's innovation, having fostered collaborations between CUDOS and Finisar over the past seven years.
"Jochen's innovation is an example of incredibly insightful optical physics. It's excellent to see his work extend the range of functionality for the Finisar products," said Professor Eggleton.
"This sort of successful technology transfer creates wealth in Sydney, which is incredibly important for both researchers and high tech industry here," said Professor Eggleton.
"It's a prime example of how a collaboration funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant between university and industry can lead to successful technology transfer and the creation of a new product."
Finisar, based in the inner Sydney suburb of Waterloo, have integrated the new technology into their WaveShaper product, which was also originally the result of a collaboration between CUDOS and the company. Dr Michaël Roelens, who was previously a postdoctoral researcher in CUDOS at the University of Sydney, and is now a staff member at Finisar, developed the technology for the first WaveShaper product around four years ago.
Dr Simon Poole, Director of New Business Ventures at Finisar Australia, said, "Jochen's innovation has allowed Finisar to significantly expand the capabilities of the WaveShaper family, as we've used the technology in our new WaveShaper Fourier Processor.
"We have a very fruitful ongoing collaboration with the University of Sydney, via CUDOS, and successful technology transfers like this highlight the importance of research in Australian universities. It's clear we need this sort of applied research and development to help create and sustain high tech industries in Australia," said Dr Poole.
"This ultimately creates jobs in Australia and drives our economy."
Contact: Katynna Gill
Phone: 02 9351 6997