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 Centre d'optique, photonique et
laser (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.
We fabricated optical waveguides in fused silica by focusing femtosecond laser pulses with an axicon. With this
technique, we also produced microholes by using chemical etching. The axicon, which is a conical lens, generates an
optical beam with a transverse intensity profile that follows a zero-order Bessel function. Bessel beams produced by
axicon focusing have a narrow focal line of a few micron width which is invariant along a long distance (>1 cm). By
focusing femtosecond pulses with an axicon into fused silica, we induced permanent modifications over the extented
focal line of the axicon without scanning axially the glass sample. The waveguides so fabricated exhibit low losses and
no detectable birefringence due their excellent circular symmetry. By translating the glass sample during the inscription
process, we have fabricated planar waveguides. Microfluidic channels were obtained by soaking the exposed samples
into a HF solution.
Optical waveguides have been inscribed in fused silica by focusing femtosecond laser pulses with an axicon. The axicon
is a conical lens that allows obtaining an optical beam with a transverse intensity profile that follows a zero-order Bessel
function. This profile is invariant along a certain distance (>1 cm). The advantage of using axicon is that the beam is
focused along a narrow focal line of a few micron width. Therefore the inscription of waveguides can be done without
moving the glass sample. The waveguides so fabricated exhibit low losses and no detectable birefringence due their
excellent circular symmetry. By translating the glass sample during the inscription process, we have induced a refractive
index change along a thin plane in order to fabricate planar waveguides.
A tunable multiwavelength laser source can find several applications in spectroscopy, wavelength-division multiplexing and optical metrology. We developed a fabrication technique for holographic gratings designed to allow simultaneous lasing at two wavelengths in Littrow configuration. The design of these gratings is based on recording a constant groove spacing grating and a variable groove spacing grating on the same photoresist. Using the gratings as coupler in the external cavity of a semiconductor laser, we obtained simultaneous laser emission at two wavelengths. The gain medium we used was a commercial laser diode emitting at 675 nm. By translating the grating, we demonstrated tuning of the spectral separation of the dual-wavelength output from 0.8 nm to 6.2 nm. The fabrication technique of holographic gratings and the results obtained with the laser diode will be presented.