Optics @ RIT

There is a vast array of optics-related activity at RIT. On this page you will find highlights and links to various educational programs and research activities within the domain of optics.


Photons after Dark

Monthly informal seminar series with a vibrant community of students and faculty with interest and/or expertise in optics

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

5:30-6:30pm, Chester Carlson Center for Imaging Sciences: 76-1275

Revealing the nonclassical nature of a quantum oscillator by using a qubit


Abstract: Many predictions of quantum mechanics are radically different from the predictions of classical mechanics. In my talk, I will focus on two such features and discuss them in the context of a harmonic oscillator. An experimentally viable strategy to reveal the oscillator's quantum properties is to couple the oscillator to a two-level system, also known as a qubit. I will show that the signatures of the oscillator's discrete energy spectrum and the non-classicality of the oscillator's state get imprinted on the dynamics of the joint qubit-oscillator system.

Biography: Dr. Shantanu Agarwal is a research scientist at the Rochester Theory Center. He works on quantum measurements, dynamics of strongly coupled qubit-oscillator systems, open quantum systems, entanglement, and applications of the above in superconducting qubits. He received his PhD in quantum optics from the University of Rochester and Bachelors and Masters from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (India).

Optics News

RIT professor speaks about women, science and entrepreneurship at Optical Society.  

Imaging scientist Jie Qiao will present at the Oct. 7 meeting





Promoting women in leadership positions in science and technology fields—while bridging the gap between science and business—is a cause Rochester Institute of Technology professor Jie Qiao stands behind.                                     read full story in University News


Photons after Dark

Monthly informal seminar series with a vibrant community of students and faculty with interest and/or expertise in optics


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

5:30-6:30pm, Thomas Gosnell Hall:  08-3305

Prof. John R Marciante, Institute of Optics

University of Rochester


Challenges and Developments in High-Power Fiber Lasers

John R Marciante


Abstract: Optical fibers are revolutionizing the field of optics.  In particular, fiber lasers now dominate the global market of high power lasers and ultrafast lasers.  Scaling to high continuous-wave and peak powers, however, remains a significant challenge due to the small core size of optical fibers and the resulting onset of detrimental nonlinear optical processes in the fiber itself.  In this talk, I will discuss several concepts that we have been pioneering to provide scaling of the fiber core without losing the beam quality that such scaling normally entails.  Two key concepts will be detailed: (a) continuous, lossless, spatial filtering within the fiber itself, and (b) a high-aspect-ratio rectangular (rather than circular) fiber core that only waveguides the light in one of the two dimensions (“SHARC” fiber).

Biography: Professor Marciante has worked in the fields of lasers and photonics in Government, Industry, and Academia.  He has developed of some of the smallest and largest laser systems in the world, and his work has resulted in over 140 publications, patents, and presentations.  He received the B.S. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.  Prof. Marciante has chaired and served on numerous conference committees, and has served two terms as Topical Editor for JOSA B and as Chair for OSA’s Fiber Modeling and Fabrication technical group.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014
5:30-6:30pm, Thomas Gosnell Hall: 08-3305

Ben Zwickl, School of Physics and Astronomy

Becoming an optical scientist:
A view from physics education research



Abstract: RIT is home to hundreds of active researchers and trains thousands of scientists and engineers annually.  This talk will use several examples from my own physics and optics education research to reflect on how the process of "becoming a scientist" actually happens.   What skills are most relevant?  How and when do students learn those skills? And how do we measure performance and provide feedback?    Specifically, I will discuss goals of undergraduate lab courses, impacts on students’ attitudes about experimental science, and the use of model-based reasoning in the physical optics laboratory.  I will provide several examples to show how education research uses solid scientific criteria to learn about learning.  Through my talk I hope to convey a sense of the importance, excitement, fun, and rigor of education research.

Biography: Ben Zwickl received his BS at Purdue University. His doctoral work was with Jack Harris in experimental cavity optomechanics at Yale University. Following his PhD, Ben completed a three year postdoctoral stint at the University of Colorado in the research group of Heather Lewandowski (CU-Boulder/JILA) studying physics education in lab courses. His current research focuses on students’ learning in lab courses, undergraduate research experiences, and the use of math, physics, and communications skills in the workplace.



Wednesday, 20 November 2013
5:30-6:30pm, Thomas Gosnell Hall: 08-1250

Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti Rochester Institute of Technology

The Darkest Galaxies & How to Find Them

Abstract:  The current cosmological paradigm is successful in explaining the large scale structure of the universe. Yet it appears to face a number of problems on galactic and sub-galactic scales. For one thing, it vastly over predicts the number of dark matter dominated dwarf galaxies relative to observations. Yet recent discoveries of dwarf galaxies, some as faint as single star clusters, make us wonder if these predicted dwarf galaxies are out there -- lurking just beyond our reach.

I will describe recent work we have been doing to develop a method that allows us to hunt for the darkest of galaxies. As they are very dim, we do not rely on their optical light to look for them. Rather, we analyze their gravitational effects on the primary spiral galaxy that they are interacting with. I will discuss the proof of principle of the method by applying it to galaxies with known optical companions. I will also describe recent work where we study the tidal effects of all the known Milky Way satellites on the galactic disk. Our aim here is to critically examine if the putative, nearly dark satellite of the Milky Way that we predicted earlier (Chakrabarti & Blitz 2009) is really necessary.

Biography: Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti is an assistant professor in RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy. She received her Ph.d. from UC Berkeley and was a NSF Fellow at Harvard and a UC President’s Fellow at UC Berkeley.


Wednesday October 23, 2013
5:30-6:30pm, Thomas Gosnell Hall:08-1250

Dr. Jan van Aardt, Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing (DIRS) Laboratory
Rochester Institute of Technology

“Laser-dissection of vegetation… there is more to a tree than meets the eye”


Abstract: Our research group has developed a solid relationship with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). NEON focuses on collecting relevant and public domain ecological variables, but will also boast three airborne imaging platforms that arguably contain the world’s leading airborne imaging spectrometer and a waveform light detection and ranging (lidar) laser scanner. In short, waveform lidar measures the backscattered intensity for a 1064nm laser, as a function of time, with precise geo-location. This allows algorithm specialists to derive information about the ground surface, vegetation structure, and extract 3D surfaces. I will present some of our work with NEON related to characterizing vegetation structure from these 3D laser scans.


Biography: Dr. Jan van Aardt is an associate professor in RIT’s Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing (DIRS) group. Prior to joining RIT, he was a research group leader at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and before that, he worked as a post-doc at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He received his MS and PhD degrees in forestry from Virginia Tech.


Wednesday September 25, 2013
5:30-6:30pm Thomas F. Gosnell Hall: 08-1250

Dr. Emmett J. Ientilucci, Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing (DIRS) Laboratory, Rochester Institute of Technology

“Levering LiDAR Data to Aid in Material Identification in Aerial Imagery”


Abstract: In aerial remote sensing, the topic of material identification in hyperspectral imagery (i.e., images containing hundreds of spectral channels) is important. I will present a physics-based approach to model the sensor reaching radiance, given a material reflectance. Specifically, this talk demonstrates a method where information from the LiDAR data is used to constrain the physics-based model, thus leading to an improved material detection. This method of incorporating spatial information into the model has demonstrated significant improvement in the modeling of material-dependent radiance pixels.

Biography: Dr. Emmett Ientilucci is an assistant research professor in RIT’s Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing (DIRS) group. Prior to joining RIT, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Intelligence Community. His recent research interests include the incorporation of physics based (target) modeling into structured hybrid hyperspectral sub-pixel detection algorithms. He is currently working on a text book entitled, “Radiometry and Radiation Propagation” with Oxford University Press.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

5:00-6:00pm Thomas F. Gosnell Hall: 08-1250

Prof. Curtis Broadbent, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester

Single photon slow light: Quantum optics at a snail's pace

Abstract: I will introduce the concept and history of slow light and show how it can be easily understood using the Fourier decomposition of optical pulses. I'll then describe two experiments involving single (or a few) photons and slow light. In the first, a weak laser pulse is sent through a transmission mask and then slowed in a hot Rubidium vapor. It is then interfered with a delayed version of itself, demonstrating that optical images can be slowed. Then the pulse intensity is decreased so that the light is detected one photon at a time. It is shown that the image is preserved after the slow light medium even at very low light levels.  In the second experiment, one member of an entangled photon pair is sent through a slow light medium. It is shown that the photons are still entangled after the slow light medium. As a result, I'll argue that slow-light can be considered viable and emerging technology for use in quantum optical applications.

Biography: Curtis Broadbent received his bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. His doctoral work was with John Howell in experimental quantum optics at the University of Rochester. Following his PhD., Curtis completed a two year postdoctoral stint in theoretical quantum optics in the group of Joe Eberly, also at the University of Rochester. Curtis is now an Assistant Professor Part-Time at, you guessed it, the University of Rochester. Currently, he splits his time between theoretical quantum optics with Prof. Eberly and experimental quantum optics with Prof. Howell. His research projects currently include continuous-variable Bell inequalities, bounds for multipartite entanglement, entropic quantum steering inequalities, and generating a single-photon phase shift in a Bose-Einstein-Condensate.

Wednesday January 30, 2013  5:00 - 6:00 pm
Thomas Gosnell Hall 08-A300

Dr. Edwin E. Hach, School of Physics and Astronomy, Rochester Institute of Technology

Quantum Optics with Ring Resonators: Theory

Abstract: Silicon nanophotonic structures, specifically waveguides coupled evanescently to ring resonators via directional couplers, seem to hold a great deal of promise as the “circuit elements” of a certain class of quantum information processing devices. It is important to the engineering of quantum information processors based upon this architecture to have a comprehensive quantum optical model of the dynamics of these structures, especially when driven at the one, two, and few photon level. In this talk I will present theoretical results that, even in their early stages, suggest exciting possibilities for the operation of scalable quantum information theoretic devices. I will also describe our ongoing efforts to design and develop these devices.

Biography: Ed Hach studied theoretical physics at the University of Arkansas and received his PhD degree in 2000. Following his PhD, he has held several visiting faculty positions in various time zones of the United States. Since 2006 he has been at RIT. He collaborates with the nanophotonics group at RIT, the quantum optics group at Lehman College, CUNY, and the quantum information group at the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, NY.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012  6:00-7:00pm

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science-1125

Azure Hansen, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester

Vortices in Bose-Einstein condensates

Abstract: Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) allow researchers to study quantum mechanics on a macroscopic scale. In our lab, we engineer the wavefunction of a BEC using a coherent two-photon stimulated Raman interaction. This allows us to create complex non-equilibrium states with specific spin and orbital (vortex) angular momenta. Depending on the choice of wavefunction, we can study a wide range of phenomena, each connecting to a different field of physics. Our work both furthers fundamental understanding of spin-dependent symmetries and light-matter interactions, as well as extends applications of ultracold atomic physics to metrology and information. Here, we discuss vortices in BECs in the context of atom optics and singular optics.

Biography : Azure Hansen is a Physics PhD student in Prof. Nicholas Bigelow’s Cooling & Trapping Group at the University of Rochester. She completed her BS in Physics, with a minor in Optics, at Stony Brook University. As an undergraduate Azure did research on singular optics and BECs at Stony Brook, NIST, and the University of Rochester. After completing her PhD, she hopes to do a post-doc in ultracold atomic physics or quantum optics, and pursue a career in research with an emphasis in science outreach


Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 5:30-6:30pm, GOS-1200

Nick Vamivakas, Institute of Optics, University of Rochester

Quantum Optics with Quantum Dots: Spins & Photons


Abstract  Optically active semiconductor quantum dots behave in many ways like an artificial atom. The ease with which they are incorporated into electro-optical devices makes them a promising system for future quantum technologies. In this talk I will present recent advances in the optical control of quantum dot spins as well as the coherent generation of single photons. Finally, I will discuss how we leverage resonant optical spectroscopy to operate the quantum dot as a sensitive probe of its environment.

Biography: Nick Vamivakas studied Electrical Engineering at Boston University and received his PhD degree in 2007. Following his PhD, he was a post-doc from 2007-2011 in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Nick joined the Institute of Optics in 2011 and currently is an Assistant Professor.



Some Optics-Related Programs Across RIT


            Imaging Science B.S., M.S. Ph.D.  www.cis.rit.edu/

            Color Science M.S., Ph.D.   www.cis.rit.edu/mcsl/

            Physics B.S.  www.rit.edu/cos/physics/

            Astrophysical Science & Technology M.S., Ph.D. www.rit.edu/cos/astrophysics/

            Materials Science & Engineering M.S. www.rit.edu/cos/cmse/

            Microelectronics Engineering M.S.  www.rit.edu/kgcoe/eme/

            Microsystems, Ph.D.  http://www.rit.edu/kgcoe/program/microsystems-engineering

            Imaging & Photographic Technology B.S.

            Motion Picture Science B.S. (formerly Digital Cinema) 

            Biomedical Photographic Communications B.S.   http://biomed.rit.edu/


Optics News

Rochester Institute of Technology professor Grover Swartzlander has been appointed the incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Optical Society of America B. full story>>>

 The Journal of the Optical Society of America B emphasizes research on the fundamentals of the interaction of radiation with matter such as quantum optics, nonlinear optics, and laser physics. Topics include atom optics and cold atoms, metamaterials, nanophotonics, photonic crystals, spectroscopy, THz optics, ultrafast phenomena, and other related subjects.

Obtaining spatial information from an extremely unresolved source

Prof. Grover Swartzlander published in the prestigious journal Optics Letters.   Read more>>>


Sub-Rayleigh optical vortex coronagraphy

The paper appears in the rapid open access publication, Optics Express. Read more>>>


Quantum Optics Gives RIT’s Physics Program a Big Edge

Course takes students on strange ride through quantum physics  Read more >>>


Past Photons After Dark seminars

  • Optical Signal Processing with Integrated Technologies
    Dr. Donald B. Adams, Microsystems Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Modern X-ray Science
    Professor Michael S. Pierce, Department of Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Reduced Power Consumption Optical Signal Processing

Prashant Baveja, Institute of Optics, University of Rochester 

  • Photodynamic therapy:light and molecules come together to fight cancer

Soumya Mitra, University of Rochester Medical Center 

Professor Grover A. Swartzlander, Jr., Center for Imaging Science & Department of Physics
Rochester Institute of Technology