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ICO Newsletter

April 2009 Number 79


Saifollah Rasouli, winner of the 2009 ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo prize.

Iranian wins 2009 Gallieno Denardo prize

The 2009 Gallieno Denardo prize winner has characterized atmospheric turbulence using Moiré techniques.

The ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo prize is awarded to young researchers from developing countries, as defined by the United Nations, who conduct their research in these coun¬tries. The award is given to scientists under 40 years of age who are active in optics research and who have contributed to the promotion of optics research activities in their own, or another, developing country.

This year the prize has been awarded to Dr Saifollah Rasouli, currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Physics Department of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS) in Iran, the institution that granted his MSc and PhD degrees in Physics with specialization in Optics, in 1997 and 2007 respectively. The citation of Rasouli's award reads: "The prize is assigned for his creative implementation of Moirè interferometry to fiber optics, optical metrology, and atmospheric optics, including measurements of turbulence parameters, and possible applications to wavefront distortion compensation in adaptive optics systems". The prize was granted to the awardee in a special award ceremony during the ICTP's Winter College on Optics.

From left: A Guzmán (ICO secretary), M L Calvo (ICO president), and members of the ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo Prize Committee - A Wagué (chair), J Niemela, S Rasouli (prize winner), A Consortini and M Danailov.
Massimo Silvano, ICTP Photo Archives

Dr. Rasouli was born in Zanjan, Iran. In 1994 he received his BSc degree in Applied Physics, specialization in Condensed Matter, from the Shahid Beheshti University, Iran. Much of his recent research relates to imaging through the turbulent atmosphere. The resolution afforded by large earth-based telescopes is limited not by diffraction but by uncorrected effects of atmospheric turbulence. A light wave traveling through the atmosphere acquires distortions as it passes through regions of turbulence-produced refractive index variation. A laser beam, for example, is seen to wander; curvature induced in the wavefront from a star causes astigmatic defocus of the star image in a telescope greater than about 10 cm in diameter. With large-aperture telescopes, even more dramatic effects of wavefront distortions can be observed. A short-exposure image of a star, for example, may have the appearance of a laser speckle pattern.

Dr. Rasouli has concentrated on the exploitation of Moiré techniques for displaying and quantifying the effects of local tilt, or variations in the local angle-of-arrival, of a light wave entering an aperture. He has three Iranian patents relating to Moiré techniques: a Moiré deflectometer (2003), a Moiré slop meter (2006), and a Moiré deflectometer for atmospheric turbulence measurements (2008).

A grating recorded in a turbulent atmosphere (top) and a Moiré pattern produced by two superimposed gratings (bottom).

The measurement of angle-of-arrival fluctuations in light propagating through the turbulent atmosphere is important to the evaluation of astronomical imaging, aerial surveying, terrestrial geodesy, optical ranging, and wireless optical communication. Measurements made by Dr. Rasouli's systems can be sent to a real-time processor that controls a rubber mirror actuator, which removes as much as possible the wavefront distortions introduced by the atmosphere.

His latest scheme, noteworthy both for its simplicity and its cleverness, illustrates the basic idea. A monochromatic light wave from a small and distant source is incident on a fine-pitch Ronchi ruling. A short distance beyond, a Talbot image of the ruling appears. With diverging-light illumination of the Ronchi ruling, the Talbot image is slightly larger in scale than the ruling itself. If a duplicate of the ruling is placed in the Talbot image plane, in exactly the same orientation as the original ruling, large fringes result from the moiré effect. Most importantly, any turbulence-produced local variations in angle of arrival of the incident wave, even if quite small, manifest themselves as easily-seen distortions of the moiré fringe pattern. These distortions, captured by a CCD video camera, are analyzed by a computer program executing what is, according to Dr. Rasouli, a computationally efficient algorithm. He has used the technique to determine parameters that characterize the strength of turbulence measured along horizontal paths. He notes that the technique has a wide range of applications, many of which he has already explored, including shaping and glass casting processes, measurements of the refractive index profile of optical fibers, and monitoring the vibrations of large civil structures.

Dr. Rasouli will soon spend an extended period of time at the Inter-University centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCCA) in Pune, India. There, in collaboration with the IUCAA's instrumentation group, he will test the performance of his prototype wavefront sensor on the 2m optical telescope at the IUCCA Garawali Observatory.


Optics research at the Abdus Salam ICTP

SPIE offers its perspective on the work of the ICTP.

The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) subscribes enthusiastically to the core tenets of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). Science is indeed a globally enriching enterprise, and the practice of science transcends boundaries and can help unite the human family. It is largely due to the inspiration of the late Gallieno Denardo that SPIE became involved with ICTP's activities; the interest of SPIE leadership who were familiar with the ICO was also a crucial factor.

Participants gather at the 2009 Winter College on Optics in Environmental Science at the ICTP in Trieste.

A high-energy Ti:Sapphire-based ultrafast system for photoinjector applications in the laboratory for lasers and optical fibres at Elletra, Sincrotrone-Trieste, Italy.

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Infrared-camera view of a QCL head emitting through the viewport of a liquid-nitrogen cryostat.
Giancarlo Raiteri

We see ICTP as an important leader in attempts to develop scientific infrastructures in parts of the world where these are currently weak. Some of these areas have proud histories of contributions to science, but the cycles of history have and will redistribute the interest and leadership in science. SPIE also believes that functioning societies of the future and their economic standing will at least in part be based on the strength of the local science and technological enterprise.

Gallieno Denardo was not trained in optics, but he did conclude that optics was an accessible and affordable modern science for countries with limited scientific infrastructure. The Winter School for Optics at ICTP, which is supported by SPIE, the Optical Society of America, the ICO, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Societa Italiana di Ottica e Fotonica and the EOS, is a part of his legacy. (Major support also comes from the Central European Initiative, UNESCO, and the International Atomic Energy Agency).

Gallieno also planned to include experimental opportunities in optics for students from "the South", and he helped build the laboratory run by Dr. M. Danailov that is now housed at the nearby Elettra synchrotron facility.

His goal of having a research capability where students could participate in 'competitive research" at ICTP is also strongly supported by Prof. K. R. Sreenivasan, ICTP Director, and has been implemented by Gallieno's successor, Dr. Joe Niemela, with a commitment by SPIE of $30,000 per annum for at least three years and ICTP funds. A Vacchi of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) Trieste and ICTP is leading the effort in collaboration with the Institute for Nanoelectronics - Technische Universität München (TUM). Dr. Giancarlo Raiteri, from the University of Trieste, has become an ICTP employee and is in the process of setting up a laboratory in Trieste to mimic part of the work on quantum cascade lasers at the TUM. The immediate goal of the project is to measure the hyperfine splitting of the energy level of the muonic-hydrogen ground state (μ-p)1S by inducing a 6778 nm laser-stimulated singlet-to-triplet transition to lead to information about magnetic structure and polarizability of the proton. (Bakalov et al. Phys. Lett. A 172, p277, 1993). It is intended that the development and operation of the tunable distributed feedback quantum cascade lasers (DFB QCL) will ultimately lead to deployment of these sources at research centers for various other research applications. Within limits, these lasers can be designed and constructed to provide intense coherent light through the infrared and so be customized for a plethora of applications in science and medicine. At TUM, Giancarlo Raiteri has operated sources at 6770-6790 nm with a linewidth of <0.07 nm and tuning precision better than 0.007 nm. Focused power densities higher than 107 W cm-2 in 100ns pulses have been demonstrated.

When the laboratory in Trieste is complete, the project will be available for participants from the developing nations. We are hopeful that this will seed high level and challenging optical research, particularly within centers in Africa.


US committee promotes ICO programmes

The US continues to support international optics and photonics activities through its Advisory Committee.

Prof. Iam-Choon Khoo, USAC/ICO chair and appointed ICO vicepresident by the IEEE/LEOS.

US involvement in the ICO is promoted not only through professional societies but also by the very active and effective US Advisory Committee (USAC), which operates through the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The Chair of USAC/ICO is rotated between the different member societies, and currently is occupied by Prof. Iam-Choon Khoo, appointed ICO vice president by the IEEE/LEOS. The Committee is coordinated by Kathie Bailey Mathae, Director of the Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO) of the US National Academies, an entity that evaluates opportunities for international collaboration in scientific research and strengthens U.S. participation in international scientific, engineering, and medical organizations. While IEEE/LEOS, OSA, and SPIE all participate in ICO as individual societies, they and other NAS representatives work together on the USAC promoting international and domestic optics and photonics, and supporting and augmenting ICO programs at the international level.

The USAC supports ICTP's Winter College in Optics by funding two lecturers. Efforts are being made to expand US support. Kathie Bailey Mathae and a representative from IEEE/LEOS joined the Trieste System on Optical

Sciences and Applications (TSOSA) advisory Committee this year in search of more opportunities to join international efforts to further strengthen ICTP's educational and research activities on optics.

The Committee is also supportive of the Education and Training in Optics and Photonics conference, the single bi-annual international conference dedicated to the exchange of ideas and experiences related to education and training in optics and photonics. ETOP, a joint initiative by ICO, OSA, and SPIE, brings together leading optics and photonics educators and training personnel from all levels and orientations, including pre-college, academia, and industry to discuss, demonstrate, and learn about new developments and approaches to teaching in these fields. USAC will assist a number of Americans to attend the 2009 conference, to be held in St. Asaph, Wales, through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

USAC/ICO has also helped support the participation of two facilitators in UNESCO's Active Learning in Optics and Photonics workshops (ALOP), the next to be held this year in Bogota, Colombia, June 23-27.

In 1998, the National Research Council (NRC) published a report titled Harnessing Light, Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, that highlighted seven major areas where breakthroughs were taking place, including information technology and telecommunications; health care and the life sciences; optical sensing, lighting, and energy; optics in manufacturing; manufacturing of optical components and systems; and optics research and education. The USAC believes the time has come to update this report and is working with the NRC and US funding agencies to further this goal.

Kathie Bailey Mathae


PHOTONICS-2008 pulls in a large crowd

Indian photonics event brings together more than 550 participants from all over the world.

From left: PHOTONICS-2008 general chairs Prof. A Sharma and Prof. B Pal, and C K N Patel - chief guest.

The Fiber Optics Group at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi organized PHOTONICS-2008, the 9th international conference on Fiber Optics and Photonics during December 13-17, 2008 in New Delhi. The conference inauguration was held at a glittering function, presided over by the IITD Director Prof. S. Prasad, in the Dogra Hall of the Institute on the evening of December 14th in which Dr. C. K. N. Patel of CO2 laser fame and former Executive Director of the Bell Laboratories presented the keynote address entitled "All about infrared lasers and applications". All technical sessions including plenary talks were held at the India Habitat Convention Center, a few kilometers away from the campus during December 15-17. The focus of the conference was on emerging topics like nano-photonics, bio-photonics, plasmonics, ultrafast optical processing, quantum information processing, etc., in addition to a general focus on guided wave optics covering both fiber and integrated optics, which has revolutionized the general area of Photonics. The Internet revolution and deregulation of the telecommunication sector from Government controls, which took place almost globally in the recent past, have substantially accelerated this unprecedented growth within an extremely short time span, which was rarely seen in any other technology. These International Conferences are held biennially in India; the first one was held at IISc Bangalore under a different name, which was CEOT'92 and was re-christened as Photonics in 1996 when it was held at IIT Madras. The conference was preceded by a series of short courses held at IIT Delhi during December 13-14 on certain contemporary topics like Microstructured Optical Fibers, Silicon Photonics, Photonic Technologies for Quantum Information Processing, which were delivered by outstanding researchers and speakers.

At the end of the conference the following two special awards intended to foster technological development were granted: The Photonics Endowment Prize, established in 2004 for the best device-oriented paper reported from an Indian Institution/Laboratory; and the IITD-FOS award, established by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and the company Fiber Optic Services, Mumbai, for the best technology-oriented paper with potential for commercialization from India. The first was granted in 2008 to A. Kumar De, D. Roy, and D. Goswami, from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, for their work on stable optical trapping of nanoparticles aimed towards trapping single molecules. IITD-FOS award was shared by D. Ghosh et al. for the collaborative work between CGCRI, Kolkata, India, and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland that lead to the poster "Supercontinuum Generation in Highly non-linear microstructured silica fiber", and by S. K. Majumdar et al. from RRCAT, Indore, India, for the poster presentation entitled "In-vivo diagnosis of human oral cancer using near infra-red Raman spectroscopy". Several cash awards were offered by OSA, IEEE LEOS, and SPIE for other outstanding papers by students. With more than 550 registered participants from all over the world, and a concurrently technical exhibition consisting of 24 exhibition booths, the conference was a great success in technical content and overall organization.

Bishnu Pal and Anurag Sharma
Conference General Chairs


Young scientists get the chance to shine

The ICO is introducing a new award to recognize outstanding scientists in optics and photonics.


In 2005 the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) created the Young Scientist Prizes for its commissions. The international Commission of Optics (ICO), as an Affiliated Commission of IUPAP, decided in 2008 to adopt the IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Optics to recognize the scientific achievements of outstanding young scientists in applied optics and photonics. The prize will be awarded annually to a scientist with a maximum of 8 years of research experience (excluding career interruptions) following the PhD degree. The winner receives a medal prepared by IUPAP and a check for €1000. The Prize is handed out at a major ICO meeting, where the recipient also gives an invited presentation.

Nominations for the 2009 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Optics are now solicited. The deadline for submission of nominations is 15 July 2009. The general rules and full details of the nomination and selection procedures are available on the ICO website, Information can also be obtained from the Chair of IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Optics Committee, Professor Ari T. Friberg (


International Commission for Optics

Bureau members (2008-2011):

President: M L Calvo;

Past-President: A T Friberg; Treasurer: J A Harrington;

Secretary: A M Guzman, Physics Department, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA; e-mail

Associate Secretary: G von Bally

Vice-Presidents, elected: Y Arakawa, Z Bingkun, Z Lakhdar, H Lefèvre, F Mendoza, D T Moore, M Oron, T Szoplik

Vice-Presidents, appointed: M Gu, I C Khoo, R Ramponi, P Stahl, D T Strickland, A Wagué

IUPAP Council Representative: C. Cisnero