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Scientist recognised for breakthrough development of specialty optical fibres

15 January 2020
Sydney Astrophotonic Instrumentation Laboratory wins award for innovation
Associate Professor Sergio Leon-Saval has won the Australian Optical Society John Love Award for his collaborative work with Nokia Bell Labs to propose and develop a new type of specialty optical fibre device called mode-selective photonic lanterns.
Associate Professor Sergio Leon-Saval

Associate Professor Sergio Leon-Saval

Australian Optical Society John Love Award recognises innovations and technical advances in the field of optics. In particular, the award seeks to recognise strong efforts in translational optical research towards other field applications and commercialization.

Associate Professor Sergio Leon-Saval has won the Australian Optical Society John Love Award for his collaborative work with Nokia Bell Labs (US) to propose and develop a new type of specialty optical fibre device called - mode-selective photonic lanterns for their use as mode multiplexers for Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) systems for the first time.

This breakthrough has profound implications for Space Division Multiplexing optical communications, which is traditionally based on few-mode optical fibre transmission systems that rely on diversity on electromagnetic modes propagating along the optical fibres.

“The area of science I am more passionate about is optical physics in fibres and the interaction of light and matter. This is an amazing area of science where we can research, design and study how light propagates in different media and to use it to our advantage in many other fields of research and industry,” explains Associate Professor Leon-Saval.

“In fact, I am double honoured by this award, since its name honours one of the pioneers in the field of fibre optics in Australia and worldwide, Prof John Love who passed away in 2016.”

Associate Professor Leon-Saval is the first University of Sydney awardee. The award has been granted to 8 people since its inception in 1995.

Director of the Sydney Astrophotonic Instrumentation Laboratory Associate Professor Leon-Saval states, “With this new technology, we can also extend photonics laser systems to multimode light for the first time and thereby keep fibre-based laser applications and technology at the forefront of applied sciences.”

“I have the fortune to work very closely with and to be the link between two very strong fields of research within the School of Physics and the University – Astronomy and Photonics. My cross-disciplinary research allows me to innovate in two different research fields at the same time, this alone is one of the most exciting scenarios one could wish for in science.

“Further, the ability to research across disciplines has provided me with the opportunity to also work very closely with industry and being able to apply some of our research skills and expertise to several industry applications such as advance photonic sensors in robotics and optical sensing of greenhouse gases.”

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