The Lightwave Roadshow is an outreach program run by research students at the University of Southampton, UK, that seeks to educate and inspire young students with optics, through conducting workshops in local schools and exhibiting at local and regional educational fairs. Adopting a hands-on philosophy enabled by an extensive collection of experimental optical demonstrations, Lightwave aims to promote scientific interest and indirectly address the global STEM skills shortage. While Lightwave has become a well-established program in local schools since its inception in 1998, 2015 included an unprecedented number of overseas activities. Inspired by the In- ternational Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015), Lightwave organized a school workshop in a foreign country (Singapore) as well as exhibited at major events, including the IYL 2015 opening ceremony in France, which marked the first time that the roadshow used UK school students to deliver outreach activities beyond the UK. These recent successful overseas projects have encouraged the outreach team to continue expand- ing the reach of the roadshow internationally. Of particular note is the involvement of Lightwave at academic conferences, where experiences and best practices can be shared among outreach ambassadors from different programs, student chapters, universities, and organizations. This paper provides a review of these activities, and identifies the administrative and practical challenges of bringing a local outreach program abroad and some strategies to overcome them. We also outline our travel suite of experimental demonstration kit, a portable selection from our main equipment inventory. This won the recent OSA ‘IYL-To-Go’ student competition.
The accepted industrial skills shortage in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United Kingdom has led to an increasing drive for universities to work with a wider pool of potential students. One contributor to this drive is the Lightwave Roadshow, a photonics-focused outreach program run by postgraduate students from the University of Southampton. The program has benefitted from the unique platform of the International Year of Light (IYL) 2015 for the development and support of hands-on and interactive outreach activities. In this report we review Lightwave activities facilitated by IYL that focused on widening participation for students aged 6 to 18 years from a multitude of societal categories; the roadshow has directly benefitted from the significance and investment into the IYL in conjunction with university recruitment strategies, local schools and the support of international organizations such as SPIE and OSA. Lightwave has used the foundation of the IYL to provide a wide range of activities for over 1,200 UK students in 53 different schools; the assessment tools used to measure learning outcomes, reach and impact are also discussed. The program’s activities have been developed to make younger age groups the center of the outreach activity and create an environment which encourages youth pursuit of optics and science from a grassroots level upwards; to illustrate this we will outline a Lightwave project endorsed by the IYL steering committee to permit two 6th form students to attend the IYL opening ceremony in Paris.
GeTe4 waveguides were designed and fabricated on silicon substrates with a ZnSe isolation layer. GeTe4 has a refractive index of 3.25 at a wavelength of 9 μm and a lower refractive index isolation layer is needed to realise waveguides on silicon. Numerical modelling was carried out to calculate the thickness of the isolation layer (ZnSe, refractive index ~2.4) required to achieve low loss waveguides. For a loss between 0.1 and 1.0 dB/cm it was found that a ~ 4 μm thick ZnSe film is required at a wavelength of 9 μm. ZnSe thin films were deposited on silicon, GeTe4 waveguides were fabricated by lift-off technique and were characterised for mid-infrared waveguiding.
Realization of single-mode waveguides is essential for ultra-sensitive biosensing in the mid-infrared molecular “fingerprint” region for biomedical lab-on-chip applications. High contrast (Δn ≈ 1) germanium telluride (GeTe4) single mode rib waveguides were fabricated on zinc selenide (ZnSe) substrates for evanescent field based sensing to detect analytes at low concentration. Amorphous GeTe4 thin films were deposited by RF-sputtering and were found to transmit over the spectral range from 2μm - 20μm. Photolithography followed by reactive ion etching was carried out to etch the film, forming rib waveguide structures with minimum surface roughness and vertical sidewalls. It was found that films deposited at room temperature have average roughness of about 5nm. Optical constants were determined by IR-VASE ellipsometry.