Expert awarded major Royal Society honour

Professor Misha Sumetsky

20 May 2014

An Aston academic who is a leading authority on photonic technologies has been appointed one of only 28 new Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holders. 

Professor Misha Sumetsky was given the accolade for his continuing work to develop revolutionary next generation fibre optic devices for telecommunications, optical computing and sensing. 

The award also entails a £40,000 funding grant, which will support Professor Sumetsky in pushing forward SNAP technology (Surface Nanoscale Axial Photonics), which he created and pioneered while at OFS Labs in New Jersey, USA. 

At Aston, he will further develop the system, which uses small segments of optical fibres to fabricate miniature photonic devices with unprecedented sub-angstrom precision. These devices are predicted to have breakthrough applications in optical communications, computing and fundamental science. 

The Wolfson Research Merit Award aims to provide universities with additional support to enable them to recruit or retain respected scientists of outstanding achievement and potential to the UK. 

To win the award, it had to be demonstrated that Professor Sumetsky would make a significant contribution to his field while working in the UK. The quality of laboratory and other facilities which Aston University has made available to him also had to be deemed exemplary. 

Professor Sumetsky, who joined the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) last year, said: “I am honoured to be appointed as a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder and I look forward to continuing my research into SNAP technology. Working with colleagues at Aston, I hope to create all new miniature optical devices which will increase precision by up to 100 times higher and decrease the attenuation of light up to 100 times smaller than anything previously achieved. 

“Ultimately, we are working toward the development of optical processing and compute devices, which will have superior speed and consume less energy than conventional electronic devices and are of paramount importance in optical science at the moment. Instead of using miniature electronic chips, optical computers will use miniature photonic circuits, allowing for much greater bandwidth. The advances being made at Aston with SNAP technology will bring the era of optical computing ever closer.” 

The AIPT, with more than 70 active researchers, is the largest group in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and one of the largest in photonics research in the UK. The group pursues a diverse range of device-and-system level topics at the leading edge of technology. 

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For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or j.garbett@aston.ac.uk