Where the World of Photonics is Headed

Stillman Lecture Series Enjoys Successful April Debut

Despite a rainy spring day outside, the Stillman Lecture Series got off to a bright start. During the informal gathering prior to the formal talk, a scientific “roundtable group” spontaneously formed, as speaker John Bowers, along with students and Illinois faculty shared ideas and questions related to the field of photonics.

MNTL Director, Brian Cunningham, officially opened the session by stating the reasons for creating a collegial experience like the Stillman Lecture Series, introduced Dr. John Bowers of UC Santa Barbara, and presented Bowers with a plaque commemorating the event.

As he started his talk, Bowers noted that it would be “Focused on where I think the world will be headed…which is using CMOS facilities to make photonic devices for the economies of scale, but also for the integration of electronics and photonics together.” He continued “And this is the real driver, integrating electronics and photonics together, so everything will be 3D stacked together… Today, there is a need for photonics, and we can do it a lot less expensively, and a lot less power required.” Bowers stated that the whole field is growing rapidly, after really taking off in the early to mid-2000s.

Although he primarily talked about datacom applications, Bowers touched on other applications as well. He concluded his talk highlighting the fact that heterogeneous integration of lasers is being used commercially, and is essential for higher data rates with multiple laser use and lower cost per bit.

After the lecture concluded, several students and faculty members participated in the reception following the talk, continuing to chat about the field and networking.

Dr. John Bowers, speaker, and Brian Cunningham, MNTL Director
Dr. John Bowers, speaker, and Brian Cunningham, MNTL Director

About Our Speaker, John Bowers

John Bowers is Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency and a professor in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests are primarily concerned with silicon photonics, optoelectronic devices, optical switching and transparent optical networks and quantum dot lasers. Bowers received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University. He worked for AT&T Bell Laboratories and Honeywell before joining UCSB. Bowers is a fellow of the IEEE, OSA and the American Physical Society, and a recipient of the IEEE Photonics Award, OSA/IEEE Tyndall Award, the IEEE LEOS William Streifer Award and the South Coast Business and Technology Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors. 

 

About the Stillman Lecture Series

The Stillman Lecture Series celebrates the many extraordinary contributions of Prof. Gregory Stillman to the University of Illinois family. A native Nebraskan, Stillman graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1958 with a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering. He next served in the U.S. Air Force as an officer and pilot affiliated with the Strategic Air Command, before entering the University of Illinois graduate program in electrical engineering in 1963. After earning his Ph.D. in 1967—his mentor was Prof. Nick Holonyak, Jr. —he joined the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, working there until he was invited to serve as a member of the U of I electrical engineering faculty in 1975. Today’s wireless and broadband communications owe much to Stillman’s work. A prolific researcher and author in the field, he published over 300 papers.

Coupled with financial backing from the state of Illinois and the forward-thinking expectations of semiconductor industry leaders at the time, Stillman’s leadership was critical to the opening of the Microelectronics Laboratory in 1989, the precursor to today’s MNTL. Stillman also served as the first director of the Microelectronics Laboratory, setting a long-term pattern for the growth and impact of the 21st century’s Micro & Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Students and faculty gather to chat with Dr. John Bowers prior to the Stillman Lecture.
Students and faculty gather to chat with Dr. John Bowers prior to the Stillman Lecture.