Conference for Pioneering Photonics Institute Celebrates 30 Years of Innovation

October 26, 2012 | news, Uncategorized

A pioneering center for photonic science and technology at The City College of New York commemorated three decades of research into the generation and harnessing of light with a celebratory conference in October.

Established at CCNY in 1982, the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) pioneered an entire field of research. “At that time there was no such thing as photonics” said Institute founder and Distinguished Professor of Physics, Dr. Robert Alfano. While other major centers for optics research existed, the IUSL was the first research institute of its kind devoted to the study of applications for ultrafast light.  The Institute’s missions include the identification and development of emerging technologies and the development of photonic technology for the commercial marketplace.

The invention of lasers in the 1960’s preceded and made possible the field of photonics. Over the past three decades the IUSL fostered many steps in the evolution of optical spectroscopy, one of the primary subfields of photonics.

Professor Alfano’s crowning achievement was discovery of the supercontinuum. This, the ultimate white light source, enables many applications in science, biology and engineering and is the IUSL’s logo.

Alfano and other IUSL researchers were the first to invent and employ fluorescence to detect cancer in 1984. Three years later they used vibrational information from Raman scattering of light to detect cancer. They advanced the ultrafast processes used in condensed matter physics and their innovations in multiphotons in 1996 formed the basis of the multiphoton microscopes for tissues. The Institute’s optical imaging research through scattering media brought about the development of optical mammography, ballistic light and snake light.

Professor Alfano credits IUSL engineer Yury Budansky – responsible for building many of the photonic and optical devices envisaged by its physicists – as the secret weapon behind the institute’s success.