The only two-year program to educate photonics technicians in Michigan was introduced at Baker College in 2013. Graduates are employed with photonics companies in the state, fulfilling the primary mission of the program. The program curriculum was revised for this academic year with more curriculum enhancements planned, including photonics applications in autonomous vehicles such as LIDAR, and the use of high power lasers in manufacturing. Efforts to expand the program and create a more sustainable pipeline of students are under way with continued support from the National Science Foundation. These include the introduction of photonics content in Career and Technical Education high school programs. The paper will describe the updated program curriculum, the resources available in the Optics and Photonics Lab, and the collaborative and outreach activities with high schools in the state.
Pinky-powered Photons is an activity created by the Michigan Light Project during the International Year of Light to encourage creativity in learning about light. It is a low-cost project. Participants make and take home a colorful LED light powered entirely by their fingers. Younger visitors "package" the electrical element into their own creation while older visitors solder the electrical parts together and then create their own design. This paper will detail the learning objectives and outcomes of this project as well as how to implement it in an outreach event or classroom.
The 2015 International Year of Light created a wonderful opportunity to bring light and optics events and activities to people of all ages and occupations in Michigan. A large spectrum of events took place; from events held in schools, colleges, and universities targeting various groups of students, to events associated with festivals attended by large crowds. The latter included the Ann Arbor Summer Festival held in June and the Flint Back-to-the-Bricks Festival in August. All events included interactive activities where participants learned hands-on about optics and photonics phenomena and applications. Original demonstrations and kits were developed by the Ann Arbor OSA Local Section and the Optics Society at the University of Michigan, the joint OSA/SPIE student chapter, for use during the events. The activities were funded through the student chapter’s SPIE grant for IYL outreach events and corporate sponsorships. Under the name Michigan Light Project, these groups along with local technology enthusiasts and science clubs delivered several events across Michigan. Other events took place throughout the year in Mid-Michigan through the efforts of faculty and students in the Photonics and Laser Technology program at Baker College of Flint. The outreach events targeted students in K-12. Teachers, counselors, and parents also learned about the importance of optics and photonics in society. The activities developed will continue this year and in the future. The paper will provide details on the completed events and activities along with tips for implementing similar activities and outreach partnerships in other areas.
Outdoor holography is an activity created by the Michigan Light Project during the International Year of Light. Traditional holography is done in dark and quiet rooms. Using a kit from LitiHolo.com, we designed a way to make simple holograms outside in a noisy festival environment.
While graduate level optics and photonics education in the state of Michigan has a rich tradition, college level programs that produce photonics technicians are virtually non-existent. Baker College has started the first two-year photonics program in the state in fall 2013. The program is leveraging support from Mi-Light, the Michigan Photonics Cluster; OP-TEC, the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education; and an NSF Project Grant awarded to the College. In its first year the photonics program has achieved important milestones - convening an Advisory Board with industry participation, developing almost the entire curriculum, and creating a fully functional optics and photonics laboratory. Outreach activities have also taken place. The paper will describe the steps taken to introduce the new program and the lessons learned along the way.
Planar technology and design have evolved significantly in the past decade, both in terms of performance and yield, reducing the cost/performance advantage of thin-film filters (TFF) over Array-Waveguide Grating (AWG) devices. This evolution is primarily due to two reasons. One of the reasons for this is the adoption of the latest in semi-conductor fabrication techniques with respect to wafer scale, process equipment automation, and yield engineering. The other reason is the many advancements made in the Planar Light Circuit (PLC) design front which have resulted in lower optical insertion loss, reduced crosstalk, increased channel bandwidth, decreased channel spacing, and minimal chromatic dispersion. We demonstrate here how such state-of-the-art fabrication technology in combination with advanced PLC designs can be effectively used to engineer the filter shape (ripple, bandwidth, and flatness) and chromatic dispersion of AWG's to match or exceed that of their thin-film counterparts. Low passband ripple is critical for cascading multiple nodes in ring network architecture whereas minimal chromatic dispersion (CD) is desired in high rate data systems to avoid signal
distortion. The AWG device presented here has a 1dB bandwidth that exceeds 80% of the channel spacing awhile exhibiting a high flatness (25dB/1dB ratio < 1.7), both of which are at least a 50% improvement over generic flat-top AWG designs available in the market and are equivalent in performance to TFF devices. At 100 GHz spacing, AWG's
have intrinsic low-dispersion, but narrowing the spacing to 50GHz leads to a four fold increase in the CD. Here, we have successfully overcome this limitation and have been able to design and fabricate a 50GHz wide-band AWG with less than 1ps/nm chromatic dispersion, which exceeds TFF performance.
The future of telecom system design relies heavily on combining many optical devices into multifunctional modules with superior performance, lower cost, and smaller overall package size. The AWG module developments discussed here will afford comprehensive benefits to advanced optical networks. Current AWG development efforts focus on lowering insertion loss, reducing crosstalk, increasing channel bandwidth, decreasing channel spacing, managing dispersion, decreasing package size, and incorporating intelligent electronics. Better matching of the waveguide geometry and index of the integrated circuit to the optical fiber reduces the coupling loss. Other design optimizations to the waveguide bend radius and waveguide pitch at the slab can decrease circuit loss. High quality processing reduces the inhomogenieties that cause phase errors in AWGs and thus increase channel crosstalk. Optical design modifications in AWG waveguide tapers at the slab can change the passband shape and increase the channel bandwidth. Dispersion can be managed by better controlling the dispersion slope allowing for compensation. Innovations for temperature control circuitry and novel packaging designs and materials allow for smaller modules and reduced power consumption.
We theoretically analyze the behavior of a hybrid optical bistable device that uses a tunable directional coupler filter as a modulator. The device is shown to have a great potential for applications in optical computing and optical communications. The output intensity dependencies on different input parameters are plotted and their basic features are exploited in imaging applications such as optical logical gates and other optical circuits. The spectral dependence of the pulse response of the bistable device is emphasized, suggesting the design of a very sensitive wavelength sensor.