The Photonic Games are a yearly outreach event created in 2008 to spark teenagers’ interest in light. In teams, high school students face several optics challenges designed to appeal to various abilities and interests. In the past 10 years, more than 1531 participants, 425 volunteers and 100 organizers have taken part in this unique student-organized activity. Following the 10th edition, past presidents took the time to reflect together on what they learnt from their experience and identified key elements explaining the long-lasting success of this initiative. Metrics have been defined to track the evolution of the activity’s efficiency and are presented herein.
Young people often have biased and pre-conceived ideas about scientists and engineers that can dissuade them from considering a career in optics. This situation is compounded by the fact that existing resources on careers in optics are not suitable since they mostly focus on more general occupations such as a physicist and an electrical engineer. In addition, the linguistic register is not adapted for students, and many of these resources are only available to guidance counselors. To create appropriate resources that will inform high school students on different career opportunities in optics and photonics, we sought the collaboration of our local optics community. We selected seven specific occupations: entrepreneur in optics, university professor, teacher, technician, research and development engineer, sales representative and graduate student in optics. For each career, a list of daily tasks was created from the existing documentation by a guidance counselor and was validated by an expert working in the field of optics. Following a process of validation, we built surveys in which professionals were asked to select the tasks that best represented their occupation. The surveys were also used to gather other information such as level of education and advice for young people wishing to pursue careers in optics. Over 175 professionals answered the surveys. With these results, we created a leaflet and career cards that are available online and depict the activities of people working in optics and photonics. We hope that these resources will help counter the negative bias against scientific careers and inform teenagers and young adults on making career choices that are better suited to their preferences and aspirations.
Many resources are available for groups that are interested in doing outreach activities with high school students. Most
of these resources are dedicated to the experimentation of optical phenomena but do not include information about
careers in optics and photonics. Created in 2010 for the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations (CIPI), the
Canadian Photonic Kit was distributed throughout Canada. Using this kit as a starting point, Université Laval’s OSA
and SPIE student chapters, helped by the CIPI-Student network, will create a multi-platform resource addressing three
subjects: (1) optical phenomena, (2) research in optics and photonics, and (3) related careers. This paper presents a
timeline of the project and its main parts: the Canadian Photonic Kit and an expansion pack related to careers, a
demonstration laboratory located within a research center and its virtual tour, and printable material for teachers and
Worldwide, volunteers from student associations and non-profit organizations carry out outreach activities with high
school students in their classrooms. Most of the time, these activities highlight optical phenomena but do not provide
information about the reality of researchers in companies and universities. To address this issue, Université Laval’s OSA
and SPIE student chapters set up a demonstration laboratory dedicated to outreach, located in a research center. In this
paper, we list the advantages of this type of facility as well as the steps leading to the creation of the laboratory, and we
give an overview of the demonstration laboratory.
It often takes one single event to interest teenagers in a topic that will become a passion or a career. It is in this spirit that
the SPIE and OSA Student Chapters at Université Laval created the Photonic Games three years ago, to kindle an
interest in teenagers towards studies and careers in optics. The activity, offered each year to more than a hundred grade
11 students, is divided in two parts. First, we offer a hands-on workshop in their classrooms about reflection, refraction,
dispersion, birefringence and polarization. A few days later, all the students come to the <i>Centre d'optique, photonique et
laser</i> (COPL) at Université Laval for a day of competition where a volunteer physics student accompanies each team of
four students. Challenges are various to promote the qualities that make great scientists: creativity, teamwork,
knowledge, inquisitiveness, self-confidence and perseverance. The first two editions of the Photonic Games have proven
to be beneficial for the students, teachers and volunteers, and we endeavor to improve it as we construct on our
experience with the past editions to fine-tune and improve the Photonic Games concept.
Current focusing systems for hard x rays produced by laser-based sources provide focal spots of the order of 30 µm or larger. We propose a diffractive system that can improve this resolution. This system consists of a hollow cylinder perforated in a metal sheet, with the aperture size and length dependent on the desired focusing properties. Various configurations of this diffractive lens are analyzed and compared using numerical algorithms for beam propagation. Nanometric transverse resolutions (FWHM=550λ, which corresponds to 39 nm at λ=0.071 nm) and intensity gains larger than 14 are predicted for a configuration with a working distance of 1 mm on each side of the lens.
Structures of nanometric scale are increasingly present in optical systems. Unfortunately, effects in the intermediate
fiel of a sequence of circular apertures are little known. We investigated the effects of such structures on monochromatic
and pulsed beams, and our numerical simulations predict results that could be disastrous to optical systems. For continuous
waves, we calculated high intensities that could damage materials or change their index of refraction. For pulsed beams,
strong pulse-shaping effects are predicted. Caution should therefore be used when designing systems containing circular
apertures; diffraction effects in the near fiel should be considered.
Ultra-short pulsed laser beams are frequently used in optical systems containing many limiting apertures. Unfortunately,
the spectral and temporal effects in the near field of a sequence of circular apertures on ultra-short pulses are
little known. We have investigated these effects, and our numerical simulations predict results that could have significant
consequences in certain optical systems.
This paper studies the diffraction of monochromatic Gaussian beams by a sequence of parallel coaxial circular apertures
in the near-field. Confocal Fresnel ellipsoids are used to design diffraction-based and wavelength-specific focusing
systems through a sequence of circular apertures. The results obtained with this research show that Gaussian beams can be
focused through a sequence of circular aperture diffraction effects.
This paper studies the diffraction in the near-field of a monochromatic Gaussian beam by a sequence of parallel coaxial
circular apertures. A method to design diffraction-based and wavelength-specific focusing systems through a sequence of
circular apertures, using confocal Fresnel ellipsoids, is detailed. The results obtained with this research show that the design
method introduced here is valid and can be used to focus electromagnetic beams without traditional refractive lenses.