1 Nov 2020

Three experts discuss the role of photonics in measuring climate change

From Smart Talk, 4:06 pm on 1 November 2020
A laser beam

A laser beam Photo: 123rf.com

Prof Donna Strickland, Prof David Hutchinson, Dr Thomas Baer

Prof Donna Strickland, Prof David Hutchinson, Dr Thomas Baer Photo: Bengt Nyman, Dodd-Walls Centre, Youtube

If electronics was the new technology of the last hundred years, it is being replaced in this century by photonics, according to three experts talking to Kim Hill: Donna Strickland, Thomas Baer, and David Hutchinson.

In an event hosted by the Dodd-Walls Centre based in Dunedin, they all discuss this new area of research which involves the manipulation of light at the most fundamental, quantum level, and the control and manipulation of matter at the atomic scale, through the use of light.

Although this description sounds forbiddingly abstract and theoretical, it’s the practical application of photonics which animates all three scholars. Their professional focus – and the subject of this panel discussion – is how photonics can assist in the accurate measurement of climate change.

About the speakers

Professor Donna Strickland, Nobel Laureate

Professor Strickland is the third woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Strickland, who helped revolutionize laser physics, shares half the $1.4 million Nobel Prize with French laser physicist Gérard Mourou. Together they paved the way toward the shortest and most intense laser pulses created by humankind. The team’s research has a number of applications today in industry and medicine — everything from laser eye surgery to laser printers.

Dr. Thomas Baer, Executive Director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center

Dr. Thomas Baer’s current scientific research is focused on developing imaging and biochemical analysis technology for exploring the molecular basis of human developmental biology and regenerative medicine, optogenetics, and developing new high-throughput technologies for protein engineering. Before joining Stanford University, Dr. Baer founded Arcturus Bioscience, Inc. which he established in 1996, serving as the company's Chairman and CEO until January 2005.

Professor David Hutchinson, Director of the Dodd-Walls Centre

Professor Hutchinson is a quantum physicist and professor at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He is the inaugural and current Director of the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies, a New Zealand government-funded national Centre of Research Excellence. Hutchinson's research interests are in the areas of quantum biology, Bose-Einstein condensates, and the underlying mathematics of quantum physics.

No caption

Photo: Dodd-Walls Centre

This panel discussion was recorded in association with the Dodd-Walls Centre. It is a national Centre of Research Excellence involving six New Zealand universities, hosted by the University of Otago.