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Researcher in experimental photonics awarded prestigious fellowship

Helena Normanton Fellow Juan Sebastian Totero Gongora has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship with the project “Route to AI control of micro-comb lasers”. Juan is a Research Fellow in Experimental Photonics at the Emergent Photonics Laboratory, which focuses on the "emergent" photonic properties in complex nonlinear optical systems.

Juan's research will focus on developing a new class of micro-combs, powered by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Micro-combs are miniaturised lasers emitting ultra-precise pulses of light. They are ideal candidates to provide the fast-beating “optical heart” required by transformative technologies such as portable atomic clocks, highly-sensitive hazardous chemical detectors, wearable devices for high-precision medical diagnostics, and computer chips operating at photonics speed.

Despite a series of recent technological breakthroughs, micro-combs remain surprisingly hard to control and stabilise at the high emission powers required by real-life applications. Juan's project will provide a game-changing solution to this challenge by developing a new class of micro-combs, powered by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, capable of "learning" how to optimise their emission in real-time.

Juan says: "I am really honoured to receive this prestigious fellowship in recognition and support of the research I am developing here in Sussex. I would like to thank my colleagues at the EPic Lab for their support, as well as the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Sussex Programme for Quantum Research. I believe that today, there is an opportunity to establish a deep connection between AI, ultrafast photonics and the physics of complex systems."

"Optical frequency combs, which rely on the harmonious synchronization of thousands of optical waves, are one of the best examples of how harnessing complex collective interactions can lead to developing groundbreaking applications and world-changing devices. My objective for this fellowship is not only to enhance the performance and efficiency of micro-comb lasers, bringing this technology one step closer to real-world deployment but also to provide the field of ultrafast lasers with a deeper understanding of how to capture their immense potential across different disciplines."

By: Justine Charles
Last updated: Thursday, 28 May 2020