University of Rochester

Scientist Receives Optics Prize

March 14, 1995

A University of Rochester optics scientist has been awarded the Adolph Lomb Medal by the Optical Society of America (OSA).

Turan Erdogan, assistant professor at the University's Institute of Optics, will receive the award at OSA's annual meeting in Portland, Oregon in September. The prize is awarded to a scientist or engineer who has made a noteworthy contribution to the field of optics before the age of 30.

Much of Erdogan's work focuses on the light signals that telecommunications companies use to shuttle phone calls and other data around the world. Today's phone lines are packed with more information than ever before, with computer images and files, faxes, and phone calls all jockeying for space. Scientists like Erdogan are working on ways to keep pace with the demand.

Erdogan received the award for work he did as a graduate student at the University, when he worked closely with Professor Dennis Hall to build a novel type of semiconductor laser that emits a low-divergence circular beam from the surface of a tiny chip. A special grating that Erdogan and colleagues designed and built makes the laser's light brighter than that of most semiconductor lasers. Such a bright beam may have applications in telecommunications, optical recording and data storage, laser printing, and satellite communications.

After he graduated Erdogan worked at AT&T's Bell Labs for two years before joining the University as a faculty member this year. Now he's working on new ways to pack and retrieve even more information in phone lines. In one project he is using ultraviolet light to alter optical fibers so that the fibers can channel different colors of light down different paths. Such a fiber could block unwanted wavelengths of light, or give scientists a way to sort out the phone calls, fax transmissions and computer data that soon will be traveling down phone lines simultaneously.

While his research is receiving high grades from OSA, Erdogan's teaching is equally praised by his students. Last semester he taught his first course, on optoelectronic devices, and received a perfect 4.0 rating from his students. tr