Caltech's Andrei Faraon (BS '04) has been selected to receive the Adolph Lomb Medal from the Optical Society of America (OSA). The annual award recognizes a noteworthy contribution to optics made by a researcher who is still early in his or her career.
"It's very nice to be recognized for my scientific contributions at this stage of my career," says Faraon, assistant professor of applied physics and materials science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. "I'm also very humbled that I was chosen because there are so many talented people and very strong scientists in my field."
Faraon's citation recognizes his "seminal contributions to on-chip quantum photonic technologies." One area of research for Faraon's lab is the creation of devices that take advantage of the unusual properties of quantum mechanics for information transfer, processing, and storage.
"My work has been in creating an interface that uses light for communicating between quantum systems, connected via fiber optics," Faraon says. "It's not viable on a large scale yet, but we have achieved a proof of concept."
Faraon has recently explored the use of ions of rare-earth elements to create optical quantum memory devices and optically addressable quantum bits. The quantum memories absorb photons and store their information as an excitation distributed over many ions. These quantum systems also emit light, which can be channeled onto optical fibers. This opens the door to the creation of systems where individual, separate atoms can communicate with one another via light in a system that is absolutely secure, Faraon says. If someone is eavesdropping on the fiber, it is immediately obvious from the signals that are received. Also, such devices could one day be used to interconnect future quantum computers that will solve certain types of mathematical problems more quickly.
Adolph Lomb was OSA's treasurer from its founding in 1916 until his death in 1932. In recognition of his work on optics, the OSA established the Adolph Lomb Medal in 1940. The award will be presented to Faraon at the OSA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., in September.