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ICO Newsletter

April 2008 Number 75


ICO Congress: alive and kicking at 60

The ICO-21 2008 Congress will be held in Sydney, Australia, on 7-10 July.

The ICO-21 Congress will take place at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Australia in July.

Some of the participants from the first ICO meeting held in 1948 at the Physics Laboratory of the Technische Hogeschool in Delft, the Netherlands. The first ICO president, T Smith of Imperial College, London, is standing in the centre. Other participants include P Fleury (first ICO secretary), A C S Van Heel, G Toraldo di Francia, J L Cojan, A Biot, S S Ballard, E Ingelstam, V Ronchi, J Hrdlicka, M Françon, P Jacquinot, A Arnulf, A Marechal, R W Ditchburn, E H Linfoot, R Slansky and D B Judd.

The 21st ICO Congress (ICO-21) will meet in Sydney, Australia on 7-10 July. The premise of the congress is "Optics for the 21st century". This traditional optics convention began 60 years ago, which means that the history of ICO already encompasses six decades.

The first official ICO meeting took place in the Netherlands on 12-17 July 1948, at the Physics Laboratory of the Technische Hogeschool in Delft. It was at this meeting that ICO became established as a commission affiliated to the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), and its status was formally adopted. The first meeting was attended by 44 delegates, with scientists from 11 countries.

Since then the ICO General Congress has been organized triennially, covering all continents except Africa. ICO-19 was held in Europe (Florence, Italy) and ICO-20 in Asia (Changchung, China).

The 21st Congress will consist of a scientific meeting and an organizational event known as the ICO General Assembly. The scientific meeting will cover important subject areas such as optical instrumentation; biomedical optics and biophotonics; optical information storage and processing; quantum atom optics and quantum information; photonic systems and optical communication; optical microscopy and imaging; lasers and applications; X-ray optics; photonic crystals and metamaterials. The topics will provide an outstanding opportunity to review any progress, as well as to study recent contributions and discoveries in optics and photonics. Related interdisciplinary topics and industrial applications will also offer an update of the relevant field.

This year's meeting is hosted by the Australian Optical Society and is supported by the international science linkages established under the Australian government's innovative statement entitled "Backing Australia's ability".

ICO-21 will be held in parallel with the OptoElectronics and Communications Conference and the Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology. The combined conference will address all aspects of optoelectronics and optical communications, including the waveguide and propagation theory, components and subsystems, systems and networks. It will also include a special conference on lasers and electro-optics focus symposium entitled "Frontiers in Photonics", which will deal with advanced topics.

More than 20 world-class invited speakers will give an overview of their fields, and the recipients of the 2006 and 2007 ICO prizes will present their award-winning lectures at a special plenary session on 7 July.

In addition, an attractive social programme will be offered to the delegates, including a harbour cruise. The registration deadline is Thursday 19 June. It is advisable to book accommodation at the same time as registering.

Delegates from all ICO territorial committees will meet twice during ICO-21. They will review ICO activities and policies, admit new members and elect the new bureau, which will hold office during the next triennium, 2008-2011. At every ICO general meeting the assembly elects the president, secretary, associate secretary, treasurer and vice-presidents for a three-year term. Prof. René Dändliker, an ICO past-president and chair of the nominating committee, has written to the territorial committees requesting nominations and endorsements for all available positions (see ICO Newsletter, January 2008).

The positions on the ICO bureau are open to all members and it is hoped that a fair geographical distribution, as well as a good balance with regard to professional activity, will be achieved.

Details of the election procedure are in the ICO statutes and the ICO rules and codes of practice, both of which can be found on our website or obtained from the ICO secretary (

For more detailed information on the ICO-21 2008 programme, go to the congress website, which can be found at



Award shows progress in African science

Mourad Zghal wins 2008 ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo prize

Mourad Zghal, a faculty member from the Higher School of Communications of Tunisia, is the recipient of the 2008 ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo award.

Mourad Zghal, a faculty member from the Higher School of Communications of Tunisia, is the recipient of the 2008 ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo award.

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 countries. 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 Mourad Zghal from the Higher School of Communications of Tunisia.

The citation of Zghal's award reads: "The prize is assigned for his original work in the development of numerical modelling techniques for photonic crystal fibres, microstructured optical fibres, polarization, and for his active commitment aimed at the diffusion of research in optics in Africa."

Starting this year, the ICO/ICTP award is named in memory of the late Gallieno Denardo, who was in charge of optics activities at ICTP for more than 20 years.

In 1995 Mourad Zghal obtained his degree in communication engineering from the Engineering School of Communications of Tunis (also known as Sup'Com) in Tunisia. He then received his MSc and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the National Engineering School of Tunis in 1996 and 2000, respectively. While working for his PhD Zghal developed a sensor based on the tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy technique for the detection of pollutants. The results obtained show a potential use of this system to measure methane concentration levels present in the urban atmosphere.

Participants at a young active training workshop in Tunis in 2004. The students are holding camera obscuras.

Mourad Zghal (right), receiving the 2008 ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo award from Joseph Niemela, who is responsible for optics and photonics activities at the Abdus Salam ICTP in Trieste, Italy.

Mourad Zghal in the Gallieno Denardo lecture room at the Abdus Salam ICTP in Trieste in February this year.

From 1995 to 2001 Zghal worked as a senior engineer at the Technical Institute of Telecommunications of Tunis. He then joined the electrical engineering department of the National Engineering School of Tunis, where he began to investigate modelling and characterization of a new generation of optical fibre, such as photonic crystal fibre - which is at a particularly dynamic stage in Africa.

Since 2003 Zghal has been a faculty member of the Electronics and Physics Department at Sup'Com, which is the leading engineering school dedicated to information and communication technologies in Tunisia. Sup'Com embraces cutting-edge technological advances and has attracted outstanding faculty members and exceptional students from around the country, offering BS, MSc and PhD degrees as well as providing MSc programmes for continuing education.

The comprehensive undergraduate curriculum at Sup'Com encompasses basic science, engineering and laboratory experiments, as well as providing exposure to the humanities. The curriculum also offers social science subjects, teaching students how to create, protect and manage technology with regard to ethics, human values and social benefits. The MSc and PhD programmes are designed to educate and train future leaders in the high-tech engineering system, to serve as a model for broadening communication engineering science and manufacturing and to expand the scope and practice of high-tech engineering.

Zghal's research is carried out at the ''circuits and advanced techniques for communication systems'' laboratory at Sup'Com, where he founded, and is in charge of the new photonic devices for all optical network group. His current research topics include the theory, design, modelling and characterization of functional optical components, including photonic crystal fibres, polarization mode dispersion compensators, fibre delay lines and photonic crystal-based devices.

Zghal has published more than 70 articles as author and co-author, including international communications, and has served on numerous programme and steering committees of international scientific meetings.

In addition to his research, Zghal has been an excellent teacher for more than 10 years, with 34 undergraduate and 14 postgraduate projects to his name. His lecturing fields include propagation and electromagnetism, optoelectronics, optical communication and systems, and optical networks. He has been active in promoting training and research in photonics and optical communications within Tunisia by proposing curriculums, teaching courses and by supervising undergraduate and graduate students.

Zghal has also established several international research collaborations and taken part in the organization of international meetings. He is the founder and treasurer of the Optical Society of Tunisia - a member of the ICO family. He also founded the African Laser Centre, an organization encouraging the exchange of researchers and students across Africa.

Through teaching and educational development, Zghal has been influential in encouraging people to learn, especially in Africa thanks to his international research collaboration initiatives. He received the diploma and cash award at a special ceremony at the Winter College of Micro and NanoPhotonics for Life Science, held at the Abdus Salam ICTP in Trieste, Italy, on 18 February. He was delivering the invited ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo award lecture on "Modelling techniques for photonic crystal fibres and applications".

The ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo prize committee consists of A Wagué (chair), A Consortini, J Niemela and M Danailov. Nominations for the 2009 prize are now invited at


RIAO/OPTILAS targets young scientists

Conference promotes Ibero-American and Latin-American contributions in optics and photonics.

Jaime Frejlich, a professor from the Department of Condensed Matter at the Gleb Wataghin Institute of Physics at Unicamp in Brazil, was the chair of the successful 2007 RIAO/OPTILAS conference.

Some of the participants of the RIAO/OPTILAS 2007 conference standing outside the Unicamp Convention Centre in Campinas City, Brazil.

The conference attendees line up in the exhibition hall at Unicamp. A total of 19 companies participated in the technical exhibition.

The 2007 RIAO/OPTILAS conference, the sixth Ibero-American Conference on Optics (RIAO) and the ninth Latin-American Meeting on Optics, Lasers and Applications (OPTILAS), was held at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) in Brazil on 21-26 October. It followed the precedent set by the last series held in Venezuela in 2004. This international conference is a traditional scientific meeting merging the two former independent conferences RIAO and OPTILAS. The conference focuses on research into optics, lasers and related activities, mainly from Iberian and Latin-American areas.

The conference was chaired by Professor Jaime Frejlich from the Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute at Unicamp, and was organized by a committee of relevant researchers in optics from Campinas and São Paulo.

The organizers received 370 pre-registrations (44% from students) from 23 countries around the world, including 12 Latin-American countries and Spain and Portugal.

The scientific communications from the conference were collected and published in The Book of Abstracts. There were 471 communications, including 160 oral and 311 poster communications on 15 different topics covering almost all subject areas in optics. After a selection process by the scientific committee there were a total of 160 oral communications (including plenary, invited and contributing ones) and 311 posters.

The orals were presented in three parallel sessions and the posters in two sessions in as many days. The Book of Abstracts was published with the help of the Brazilian Society of Physics and given to all registered participants at the conference. Some of the full-length papers (more than 250 words) corresponding to these abstracts were following a review process and are being published as conference proceedings by the American Institute of Physics on an online only basis. All registered RIAO/OPTILAS '07 participants are entitled to free access to these proceedings for a year.

There were seven plenary invited talks by high-quality researchers from all over the world (the USA, Germany, Italy, Israel, the Ukraine, Mexico and Argentina) and there were 12 invited contributions from countries including Brazil, Spain, Germany, Finland, Uruguay, Italy and the UK, at the beginning of some of the parallel oral sessions.

For the young researchers and students at the conference there were student awards sponsored by SPIE and Wiley & Sons, and a committee of well known participants was formed to select the best student posters in different areas of research. This was headed by Brian Culshaw from SPIE, and also included Ari Friberg from ICO, Joseph Niemela from ICTP, Anna Consortini from Italy, Maria Yzuel and Jose Vicente Ramos-Garcia from Spain, and Cristiano Cordeiro from Brazil. The awarding of prizes for the best posters (a suggestion from SPIE officials) turned out to be an excellent way to highlight the relevance of the poster sessions. It stimulated student participation and encouraged them to explain their posters. It will also encourage students to take care with their entries at future conferences and it is strongly recommend that this practice be maintained at the next meeting.

On the financial side, organizers gave grants totalling $10 000 to cover student participation. Most of this came from the Optical Society of America (OSA) and SPIE. For students from outside Brazil the organizers waived the conference fee of $150 (plus $100 for extra expenses), and Brazilian students only paid the conference fee. This policy seemed to be successful, allowing a comparatively large percentage of students to participate in the 2007 conference. This included 19 Brazilian students (at a cost of $2500) and 30 from outside Brazil (costing $7300). To provide this financial support SPIE contributed $5000, OSA provided $5000 and ICTP gave 73000.

The ICTP student contribution was requested by the late Gallieno Denardo. A special session honouring Denardo, as well as fellow ambassadors for optics Art Guenther and Roger Lessard, was organized and was well received at the meeting.

There were 19 companies exhibiting their products and services at the conference (mainly from the Campinas and São Paulo states, but also from other parts of Brazil and around the world). The list of participants and a corresponding mailing list is available on request for scientific organizations at (see volume 992).

Jaime Frejlich, conference chair and Mikiya Muramatsu, Brazilian committee for optics.


News from the ICO territorial committees

The latest news from the representatives and members of the ICO territorial committees around the world.



John Holdsworth, of the University of Newcastle, is the new president of the Australian territorial committee.

The new president of the Australian territorial committee is John Holdsworth. Holdsworth is a lecturer at the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He is the current secretary of the Australian Optical Society (AOS), and an active member of the Optical Society of America and the Australian Institute of Physics.

His research interests are focused on lasers and applications, two-photon microscopy, fibre lasers, multiwavelength, near-field scanning optical microscopy and ultrafast laser spectroscopy. Holdsworth is also acting photonics programme co-ordinator at the University of Newcastle and has 30 years' experience in molecular science, optical sources, equipment and detection, and signal extraction.

Holdsworth takes up his new position as president from Duncan Butler, a research scientist at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

The Australian Optical Society publishes a quarterly newsletter containing the most relevant news and activities in Australian optics and photonics. The December 2007 issue is now available at



Mikiya Muramatsu, of the University of São Paolo in Brazil, is the new president of the Brazilian committee for optics.

At the RIAO/OPTILAS 2007 meeting held in Campinas in Brazil in October (see page 3), the Brazilian committee for optics (CBO) elected a new board consisting of Mikiya Muramatsu (University of São Paulo) as president, Cid B Araujo (Federal University of Pernanbuco), Flavio Caldas Cruz (University of Campinas), Jaime Frejlich (University of Campinas), Lucila Cescato (University of Campinas), Luiz Gonçalves Neto (University of São Paulo), Niklaus U Wetter (Instituto de Pesquisas Energéticas e Nucleares, Nuclear and Energy Research Institute) and Tomaz Catunda (University of São Paulo).

The new president Mikiya Muramatsu gained a physics degree in 1972, an MS degree in 1977 and a PhD in 1985 in speckle metrology from the University of São Paulo. Muramatsu is head of the optics laboratory at the department of general physics at the university. His current areas of interest are speckle interferometry, holography (including real-time holographic interferometric techniques), optics instrumentation and education in optics.



Tigran Galstian, from the University of Laval in Quebec, Canada, is the new president of the Canadian territorial committee.

The Canadian territorial committee sadly lost their former president Roger Lessard in 2007, and have now elected Tigran V Galstian as the new president. Galstian received his degree in nuclear physics in 1984 from Yerevan State University in Armenia. He gained an MSc in solid-state lasers in 1987 and a PhD in quantum electronics in 1990 from the Special Department of Physics at Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in Russia. Galstian joined the Institute of Applied Problems in Physics in Armenia in 1990 as engineering researcher, and in 1991 joined the Yerevan State University, first as a researcher and then as senior scientist. Since 1992 he has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut d'Optique in Orsay, France, and has been an assistant professor at the Rennes I University since 1994.

Galstian joined the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers at Laval University in Canada in 1995 as an assistant professor of the physics department, where he funded the laboratory of photonic materials and components. In 2006 he co-funded LensVector, which is developing tunable optical lenses for auto-focus applications. His main interests are in new optical materials and their applications in optical information technologies.


International Commission for Optics

Bureau members (2005-2008):

President: A T Friberg;

Past-President: R. Dändliker; Treasurer: A Sawchuk;

Secretary: M.L. Calvo, Departamento de Optica, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Fisicas, Ciudad Universitaria, E 28040 Madrid, Spain, phone +34 91 394 4684, fax +34 91 394 4683, e-mail

Associate Secretary: G von Bally

Vice-Presidents, elected: S N Bagayev, A M Guzmán, G F Jin, B Y Kim, M Kujawinska, H Lefèvre, J Love, I Yamaguchi

Vice-Presidents, appointed: J. Braat, M. Gu, I.C. Khoo, G. Sincerbox, H.P. Stahl, A. Wagué

Senior Adviser (ad personam): P. Chavel.

IUPAP Council Representative: Y. Petroff