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ICO Newsletter

January 2002 Number 50


ICO Prize for 2001 goes to Riza


Nabeel Agha Riza was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1962. He completed his Cambridge University (U.K.) "O" level and "A" level overseas school certificates in Lahore from St. Anthony's High and Aitchison College, respectively. He then graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1984, and from CalTech with an MS degree in 1985 and a doctorate degree in 1989. At Caltech, Riza pursued his doctorate studies with Professor Demetri Psaltis. He then joined the Liquid Crystal Display Laboratory at the General Electric Corporate Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York, where he stayed from 1990 through 1994. In 1995, Riza joined CREOL where he is currently Professor and Head of the Photonic Information Processing Systems Laboratory. In Jan.2001, Riza launched Nuonics, Inc. to prototype his inventions. Over a decade of research, Nabeel A. Riza is responsible for the invention of several pioneering optical beam control structures that have strongly impacted fields such as array sensor controls, interferometry, signal processing, fiber-optic switching and controls, and optical scanning.

Realizing that any practical antenna control system requires both transmit and receive capabilities, Riza's Ph.D. work showed how acousto-optics could be used for this dual function and developed a highly stable processor scheme. could be connected to the classic 1965 Lambert system to form the first all-optical phased array control system. At General Electric, he extended his original Acousto-optic Controller work to important wideband signal processing applications including spectrum analysis, correlation, and convolution. These were all performed with low component count, self aligning architectures. Riza next showed how his processor design could be further extended to form a novel space-time measurement tool that realizes a self-aligning, microsecond per point scanning speed interferometer for measuring optical phase/displacement with both high temporal (e.g., 1 ps) and spatial resolution (e.g., 0.1 nm).

Riza's first introduction of nematic liquid crystal (NLC) device based phase and time delay control for antenna arrays was a critical innovation in the field. Riza was the first to show how the relatively slow millisecond domain switching speed of NLCs was not a limitation for most radar applications, if a time and space multiplexed optical control architecture is used for antenna beam scanning.

At CREOL, Riza's group was the first to show how a polarization switched optical delay line could be constructed using low cost non-polarization maintaining fibers. This invention is particularly robust as it is essentially insensitive to birefringence changes in the fiber. Riza was also first to propose and demonstrate an active polarization noise reduction scheme for polarization-based cascaded photonic systems, demonstrating near 100 dB RF or 50 dB optical on/off isolation performance from limited extinction ratio liquid crystal switches. These and other methods are now being deployed in commercial products.

Riza was among the first to independently propose the use of optical microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for realizing fiber-optic switches. Specifically, he proposed the use of thin-film micromachined optical actuators for making optical switching systems for phased array systems. More recently, Riza has invented " SMP: Spatially Multiplexed Processing," a novel concept for the realization of a new class of fault-tolerant fiber-optics that eliminate single point MEMS device failure. Riza has recently demonstrated fiber-optic attenuators using micromirror and liquid crystal technologies. Riza's group models of fiber component coupling are now used in industry to optimize freespace-fiber designs.

Riza's recent invention, Multiplexed Optical Scanner Technology or MOST, exploits polarization, wavelength, space, time, and optical codes to realize a new class of powerful multidimensional scanners with applications ranging from fast data retrieval in optical storage systems to agile optical wireless links. Other recent Riza inventions include a high speed, no moving parts, ultrasonic phased array scanning probe design using a single fiber cable and multiple wavelengths to deliver unprecendently small intracavity access, a secure optical communication scheme using spatial codes, a multi-level optical security system using multidimensional optical scanning of ID bio-information, and a 2x2 fiber-optic switch that for the first time uses fundamentally isolation limited (because diffraction is at best 90-95 %; hence isolation < 20 dB) acousto-optic devices to realize a very high > 60 dB isolation switch that also has a submicrosecond speed.

Riza's research has been described in over 180 publications and 30 patents. His group's research has won two OSA-New Focus awards and one SPIE D. J. Lowell Prize. Riza's awards include the 1990 General Electric Central Research and Development New Start Research Award, GE Gold Patent Medal. He is a Fellow of OSA and of SPIE. As Chair of the IEEE Lasers & Electro-Optics Society (LEOS) Orlando Chapter, Riza has accepted four consecutive chapter awards (1996-99), including a chapter recognition for initating the first student LEOS chapter.


ICO 2001 Galileo Galilei Award winner: Kehar Singh


The 2001 Galileo Galilei Award has been awarded to Prof. Kehar Singh of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India, in recognition of his scientific contributions in the areas of statistical and information optics. The Award, established in 1993, is awarded annually for outstanding contributions to the field of optics achieved under comparatively unfavorable circumstances regarding the economic and social conditions and the access to scientific facilities and sources of information. It consists of the Galileo Galilei Medal, donated by the Societa Italiana di Ottica e Fotonica, funding of registration and approved assistance in travel and local expenses at a major ICO Meeting where the Awardee will give a presentation based on his achievements, and appropriate measures of ICO to support the future activities of the winner. The ICO Galileo Galilei Subcommittee for 2000-2002 consists of M.L. Calvo, chair; A. Consortini, J. Ojeda-Castaneda, Y. Ichioka and M.J. Yzuel.

Kehar Singh was born in 1941 at Haraula in Uttar Pradesh, India. He obtained his M.Sc. degree in Physics from Agra University in 1964 and Post-M.Sc diploma in Applied Optics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1965. Since then he has served as a member of the faculty at the IIT Delhi in various positions. He was an academic visitor at the Imperial College of Science & Technology, London from Nov. 1969 to Oct.1970. He has been a full Professor since January 1984 and during the period 1996 to 1999 served as Head of the Physics Department. Professor Singh is currently holding the position of Dean, Post Graduate Studies and Research, IIT Delhi.

Prof. Kehar Singh has been an active researcher and educator since 1965 and has created infrastructural facilities for teaching and research in his areas of specialization which are: Photonics/Information Optics (Image formation and evaluation, Dynamic holography, Nonlinear photorefractives, Optical correlators, and Optical encryption). He has published extensively in the above mentioned areas having authored / co-authored nearly 300 peer reviewed research publications. Besides these there are approx. 50 review articles in books and journals, and 40 papers in conference proceedings.

Over three decades, Professor Singh has contributed significantly to the advancement of statistical and information optics. His recent noteworthy contributions include joint transform correlator schemes, nonlinear wave mixing in photorefractive crystals for image processing and other optical processing schemes designed for the fairly complicated but practically significant conditions of partial coherence and aberration.

His investigation cover rotation invariance in pattern recognition, fractional Fourier transforms, optical encryption, beam fanning in photoregractive crystals, edge enhancement, storage, conical scattering, two- and four-wave mixing models and techniques for dynamic holograph. He also studied diffraction efficiency, scattering and stability in bleached photographic holograms and introduced schemes for double and multiple exposure speckle photography and application to displacement measurement in three dimensions.

Research publications by Prof.Singh and coworkers since 1965 resulted in 22 Ph.D. theses. Many of his former PhD and MSc students now occupy key positions in various organizations in India and abroad.

Professor Kehar Singh was honoured with Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, the highest award for significant contributions in Physical Sciences in 1985 by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India. He is a Fellow of both Optical Society of America and SPIE (The International Society for Optical Engineering) in addition to being a Fellow of the Optical Society of India and the Laser & Spectroscopy Society of India. He served as President of the Optical Society of India from 1991 to 1994 and its Vice President from 1988 to 1991. Professor Singh is an international advisory member of the editorial board of Optical Review (Japan), a member of the editorial boards of Optics & Lasers in Engineering, the Journal of Optics (India), and the Asian Journal of Physics. He also served as a editorial board member of Indian Journal of Pure & Applied Physics.

Prof. Singh has given some 70 invited lectures in various international and national conferences and has also been associated with the various committees of international and national events. He was one of the directors of the second ICTP/ICO Winter College in Optics held at Trieste, Italy in 1995. Professor Singh's research work has attracted funding for sponsored research in the field of Optics and Photonics from a number of Government agencies such as Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Defense Research and Development Organization.

As technical chair International Conference on Optics and Optoelectronics held in Dehradun, India in December 1998, Prof. Singh co-edited a two volume proceedings of the conference and SPIE volume 3729, Selected papers from International Conference on Optics and Optoelectronics'98 (Silver Jubilee Symposium of the Optical Society of India). He has also edited / co-edited 2 special issues on 'Photorefractives and their applications' of J. Optics (India), and 3 issues on 'Optical pattern recognition' of Asian J. Physics.


ICO to contribute in defining the role of the African Laser Center

by Pierre Chavel, ICO Secretary, and Arthur H. Guenther, ICO President

ALC Workshop in Pretoria

The South African National Laser Centre, a facility created by the South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, invited ICO to participate in a workshop on "a Continental Dimension for the South African National Laser Centre", that was held in Pretoria on October 11 and 12, 2001. ICO Secretary P. Chavel presented the contribution of ICO to the initial discussions that are likely to lead to a coordinated "African Laser Centre" (ALC), an ambition project to put the whole African continent forward to the international Lasers and Optics Enterprise.

Starting point: the South African National Laser Centre

The National Laser Centre, NLC, came into operation on April 1st, 2000 as an independent organization supported by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with contributions from the South African National Science Foundation. It has developed a rental pool that makes world class laser equipment available to academic institutions to stimulate laser-based research, and it focuses activity in the development of laser technology and transfer of laser expertise for application in the indigenous industry or throughout Africa.

Optics and lasers in Africa

Optics and laser activities have existed for a long time throughout the African continent, and several initiatives have been taken to coordinate them and organize them into a coherent network. The International Centre for Theoretical Physics, ICTP, a UNESCO facility headquartered at Trieste, Italy, has been organizing workshops, schools, access to some experimental facilities for third world optical scientists. In particular, it has supported the creation of an "African Laser, Atomic, Molecular and Optical Sciences" network, the LAM Network, is chaired by Dakar University Professor A. Wagué of Senegal. The LAM Network has been active for ten years on the African continent. In a long term cooperation, ICO has provided expertise and contributed in the organization of "Winter Colleges on Optics" at Trieste.The first ICO Topical Meeting on the African continent was held in Dakar in April 2000 with ICTP and LAM Network participation. All those who have had an opportunity to participate in these events know that that there exists in Africa a number of outstanding scientists conducting meritorious optical sciences and engineering activities under difficult conditions.

While many African researchers in the optics field graduated from Physics departments and have their background in fairly basic subjects in spectroscopy, the needs of society in Africa are now being addressed in a very practical way at several places. Examples include studies towards the application of fluorescence spectroscopy to the agriculture of indigenous plants and to pollution monitoring in general. The use of optics to address health challenges is being taken seriously as well. Aside from significant laser equipment available in South Africa and at the NILES Institute in Egypt, experimental facilities have been set up at such places as Ghana, Senegal, and Côte d'Ivoire, to mention some noteworthy indigenous initiatives.

However, in spite of existing coordination among scientists and scientific organizations, and in spite of funding provided by the ICTP and other bodies including the Swedish organizations SIDA and ISSP, these efforts have been limited so far by a considerable lack of resources and a lack of a global policy supported by the African governments. The ALC initiative may thus offer an opportunity to significantly improve this situation.

The ALC initiative

The South African National Laser Centre is now offering to create an African Laser Centre whose activities extend to the whole continent. The South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and several government agencies clearly expressed support for the initiative. Additionally, the interest of other African countries was manifested by the presence at the Pretoria workshop of representatives from several government agencies and embassies. Expression of interest also came from several European, American and Asian countries as well. The question that arises now is how to organize the initiative. With some evidence that financial means could probably be identified, an obvious choice is to establish a strong project first, ask for funding later. Options to be explored include the following.

  • Establish "nodes" of the ALC at several places in Africa where laser and optics expertise already exists, so as to educate more scientists, engineers and technicians with hands-on training and to reach out to the African society by developing more applications; the main node, obviously, should be the South African NLC.
  • Offer fellowships for African opticists and laser scientists so that they can spend extended periods of time at the nodes.
  • Secure participation of some ALC scientists in major internationally recognized conferences in optics, such as those of ICO and of its International Organization Members OSA, SPIE, IEEE/LEOS and EOS. As soon as possible, establish a regular African Laser and Optics Conference with tight submission acceptance criteria, starting small.
  • Improve access to laser facilities and documentation, in particular through membership of African scientists and institutions in these ICO Member Organizations, perhaps establishing chapters where applicable.
  • Improve participation in the global optics community by a regular participation of selected scientists from outside Africa in events in Africa and in evaluation and planning processes. Use the traveling lecturer plans available from ICO, ICO members and several other organizations to implement this measure.
  • Topically cover many applications of lasers, since lasers are based on one strong and well established corpus of knowledge
  • Develop optics and laser curricula in Africa in coherence with existing schemes developed in other continents, such as the work done in the US by CORD -
  • The suggestion was made to set as one long term objective (certainly not the only objective) such as the acquisition of a large optical instrument e.g. a synchrotron radiation facility or a free electron laser facility.
  • Establish an African-focused web site to enhance networking, collaboration, and recent development awareness.

What comes next?

At the concluding brainstorming session of the Pretoria workshop, a set of individuals was elected to compose a committee that will propose more precise plans for ALC within a few months with a perspective of launching the initiative in the coming year or so. The ICO will be represented on that committee, and it seems to us that this is exactly the kind of role where ICO can be most effective. Stepping back for a broader look at the issue, the present political trends in Africa might offer unique opportunities for the development of science and technology as a means to better integrate the continent in global economy and in the long range improve the situation of the people in Africa. Lasers and optics are an outstanding case to implement such policy to enhance economic development and quality of life based upon pervasive application and an enabling methodology


News from ICO Members

2001-2003Bureau of Academia Mexicana de Optica (AMO) : erratum

The AMO officer in charge of ICO relations during the term 2001-2003 is its President, Prof. Alfonso Lastras-Martinez, Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, A. Obregon 64, 78000 San Luis Potosi, SLP, Mexico, tel +48 25 08 92, fax +48 36 01 98, .

Optical Society of India

The Optical Society of India elected its Exectuve Council for 2001-2002 with Prof. A.K.Ghatak of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi Physics Department as its President and Prof. M.P. Kothiyal of the IIT Madras Physics Department as its Vice-President. In charge of ICO relations will is General Secretary Prof. L.N. Hazra of the Applied Physics Department, University of Calcutta, 92 A.P.C. Road, Kolkata 700009, tel +91 33 350 8386 extn 303, fax +91 33 351 9755, or Additional members include Dr S.K. Sarkar of University of Calcutta, Treasurer, and Prof. B.N. Gupta, Drs A.K. Chakraborty, A.K. Agarwal, A.K. Gupta, A.K. Saxena, A. Sharma, N.C. Das, Prof. G.R.C. Reddy, Dr (Mrs) N. Biswas, Mrs S. Deb and L. Sargar.


Optics result

(courtesy Ton Nellissen, Lingli Wang, Philips Centre for Industrial Technology, Netherlands. This work was performed in collaboration with Jena University, Light Trans GmbH and Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace Oslo).

figure 1
Figure 1. Fabricated wave-optical mask

figure 2
Figure 2. Ultimate pattern etched in the chromium layer.

Inverse diffraction calculation can be used to drastically increase resolution in proximity printing. The optical mask shown on figure 1 contains two amplitude levels and four phase levels and has been designed in such a way that it will generate the pattern shown on figure 2 on the substrate located at a predetermined distance.

The ICO Secretary welcomes for publication in this Newsletter any visual result of recent experiments illustrating the increasing diversity of the optics discipline. Three lines of explanation are requested.


RIAO/Optilas held in Argentina : record attendance at joint Latin American Optics event

The IV Iberoamerican Meeting of Optics (IV RIAO) and the VII Latin American Meeting of Optics, Lasers and their Applications (VII OPTILAS) were simultaneously held at the campus of the Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, in Tandil, Argentina, on 3-7 September 2001. The joint event was organized by the Argentine Territorial Committee to the International Commission for Optics and Professor Guillermo H. Kaufmann of Universidad Nacional de Rosario chaired them.

IV RIAO and VII OPTILAS were sponsored by Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (National Agency of Scientific and Technological Promotion of Argentina), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (National Council of Scientific and Technological Research of Argentina), Latin American Centre of Physics, International Commission for Optics, Optical Society of America, SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering, The Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics, Filial Buenos Aires de la Asociación Física Argentina, Laseroptics SA (Argentina) and Spectra-Physics GmbH (Germany).

A 35% increase from the 1998 edition of the event, approximately 230 participants came from different countries including Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Peru, Spain, the United States, Venezuela and Argentina. Thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, it was possible to offer financial help to 65 PhD students and young researchers from different Latin American countries.

The technical program included approximately 65 oral and 250 poster presentations in the following topics: industrial and biomedical applications, lasers and quantum optics, optical metrology, optical instruments, optoelectronic devices, optical spectroscopy, physical optics, atmospheric optics, optical materials, nonlinear optics, color, vision and radiometry, optical and image processing, diffractive optics, ultrafast optics, education in optics, condensed matter and thin film optics and scattering at surfaces. A significant part of these presentations, nearly 200, were published in an SPIE Proceedings volume.

In addition to the oral and poster presentations, invited lectures were also presented by Prof. J. E. Greivenkamp of the Optical Sciences Center, Prof. C. Gu of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Prof. J.-M. Caussignac of the Laboratoire Central de Ponts et Chaussées at Paris, Prof. L. G. Neto of University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Dr. F. S. Cataliotti of the University of Florence in Italy, Prof. M. W. Sigrist of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich, Dr. D. Malacara of the Centro de Investigaciones Optica in México, Prof. P. Andres of University of Valencia in Spain and Prof. O. Martínez of the University of Buenos Aires. The technical program also included a round table on the social impact of optics and photonics where five Latin American researchers presented successful application of their research of interest to the general community.

Guillermo H. Kaufman


SPIE announces reduced pricing to developing nations for educational material

SPIE, an ICO International Society Member, has decided to support access to educational material to individuals living in countries with developing and low-income economies (as defined by the World Bank). Specifically, reduced pricing for educational videos and CDs will be announced on SPIE web and on promotional flyers within a few weeks, and which was included in the most recent SPIE Distance Education Catalog, mailed in October 2001.


Forthcoming events with ICO participation

28 January - 2 February 2002
Photosciences 2002
Havana, Cuba
Dr. Elena Vigil, Physics Faculty, University of Havana, Havana 10 400, Cuba
fax. +537 79 46 51

18 February - 1 March 2002
ICTP/ICO/OSA Winter College on Ultrafast Non-Linear Optics
Miramare - Trieste, Italy
Prof. G. Denardo, ICTP, Strada Costiera 11,
I-34014 Trieste, Italy
fax. +39 040 2240 443

8-11 April 2002
Optics in Computing 2002
Taipei, Taiwan
Prof. Chung J. Kuo, Graduate Institute of
Communication Engineering,
National Chung Cheng University,
Chaiyi, Taiwan 62107
fax. +886 5 272 2702

26-29 May 2002
Photonics Prague 2002
Prof. Pavel Tomanek, Brno Univ. of Techn.,
Dept. of Physics, Technicka 8, CZ-616 00 Brno,
Czech Republic
fax. +420 5 4114 3133

8-12 July 2002
Int'l Laser Radar Conference (ILRC21)
Quebec City, Canada
Dr. Luc R. Bissonnette, Defence Research Establishment Valcartier (DREV),
2459 Pie-XI Blvd. North, Val-Belair, QC
G3J 1X5, Canada
fax. +1 418 844 4511

25-31 August 2002
ICO-19, Triennial Congress of the
International Commission for Optics

"Optics for the Quality of Life"
Florence, Italy
Dr. Giancarlo C. Righini,
IROE "N. Carrara" - CNR, Via Panciatichi 64,
I-50127 Firenze, Italy
fax. +39 055 412878

1-5 September 2002
OWLS VII, "Environmental and Bio-Photonics for the New Millenium" (ICO-19 Satellite) Luzern, Switzerland Prof. Theo Tschudi, Inst. of Applied Physics,
Darmstadt Univ. Techn., Hochschulstr. 6,
D-64289 Darmstadt, Germany
fax. +49 6151 164123


International Commission for Optics

Bureau members:

President: A. H. Guenther;

Past-President: T. Asakura; Treasurer: G. T. Sincerbox;

Secretary: P. Chavel, Institut d'Optique, B.P. 147, 91403 Orsay cedex, France, fax +33 1 69 35 87 00, e-mail

Associate Secretary, in charge of Meetings: A. T. Friberg, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Physics - Optics, SE-100 44 Stockholm, fax: +46 8 789 6672,

Vice-Presidents, elected: M. L. Calvo, R. Dändliker, A. A. Friesem, J. Ojeda-Castañeda, U. Kim (+), G. C. Righini, C. Sheppard, L. Wang

Vice-Presidents, appointed: H. H. Arsenault (SPIE), D. A. B. Miller (IEEE/LEOS), B. E. A. Saleh (OSA), T. Tschudi (EOS)