In this edition of “Photonics Worldwide—This is my Lab”, we introduce you to Anuj Kumar Singh, a Ph.D. student who turns the shortcomings of 2D materials into a feature to create tunable sensors. We would also like to introduce you to Sinan Genc, who changed his field of study completely to now focusing on contamination sensors for supporting a more sustainable future. And we want to share the inspiring story of Luis R. Rivera Fernandez, who is teaching about antennas and is reminding us of the bigger picture in working with light and electromagnetic waves. Please do get in touch if you would also like to share your story with us!

Senta Jantzen

My name is Anuj Kumar Singh, I am a Ph.D. student at the Laboratory of Optics of Quantum Materials (LOQM) at the IIT Bombay and I am working on tunable photonics with 2D materials. Recently discovered two dimensional (2D) materials, or materials whose thickness is just a few atoms, have found numerous applications in building photodetectors, nanoscale light sources, sensors and quantum information processing. Since these materials are very thin, their optical and electronic properties change drastically if you stretch them by even a little bit. Usually this is a shortcoming because one has then to be extra careful in fabricating these materials. In my research I am trying to turn this problem into an opportunity and using this strong dependence of the optoelectronic properties on the strain as a tuning knob! The goal of my research is to develop artificial quantum emitter arrays by applying controlled strain on these systems. Such a technology will help in generating deterministic single photon emitters in 2D materials—so far most efforts in this direction are based on randomly occurring defects in these crystals.

As an Indian teenager entering the sciences, I always looked up to Dr C. V. Raman (Nobel Laureate 1930) as an inspiration. I had therefore developed a keen interest in light scattering and vibrations of crystals during undergraduate years. When I had to make the transition to Ph.D., the field of quantum materials was booming and I wanted to see if I could apply these principles to develop an innovative optoelectronic technology using this new material platform. There was an opening at the Laboratory of Optics of Quantum Materials (LOQM) at the IIT Bombay, where I joined to pursue these ideas. Nowadays, I am performing Raman spectroscopy almost every day, building new optical setups and growing these 2D materials in our lab at LOQM. It’s an exciting time to be doing photonics!

I am Sinan Genc from Turkey. I have received my B.Sc. from Sakarya University and M.Sc. from Abdullah Gul University in Electrical Electronics Engineering. Currently, I am a Ph.D. Candidate at Abdullah Gul University, in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

My first encounter with photonics happened in 2016, the year that I started my M.Sc. and this was also the year I got in touch with the IEEE Photonics Society. Working on quantum dots and display technology in the Mutlugun lab and doing research for high-color-quality displays provided a great opportunity to both dive into the field of optics and photonics and also to extend my network in the Society. The IPC 2017 was my first experience with presenting my research at an international conference and I remember very well how nervous I was during that time.

With the years, I have noticed that I want and need to do something for the environment, something for nature. So, I have moved a totally different field: sensors. After three semesters of my Ph.D., I really would like to thank my advisor, Prof. Kutay Icoz. It would be so hectic without his support. Now, in the Smart Nanophotonics Research Group, I have been working on optical sensors to characterize microplastics in aquatic environment. Thanks to my co-advisor Prof. Talha Erdem, I had a smooth transition on the new field and day by day I feel more comfortable. Currently, we are developing a low-cost, hand-held optical sensor to have much more information about the contamination in liquid samples. To overcome the limitations of Mie Scattering, we integrate machine learning algorithms. I believe that my research will contribute to environmental research and drive a sustainable future a step further.

“I work with light” that is what an electrical engineer, who focused on electromagnetics says to his niece, as he works constantly surrounded by light. My name is Luis R. Rivera Fernandez and in the confinement of my lab at the University of Puerto Rico—Mayaguez Campus, I teach how to construct antennas with the capability of interacting with the invisible flow of electromagnetic radiation that surrounds us. These devices have led humanity to interconnect with the entire world by enabling all of us to communicate with anyone and anywhere, in fractions of a second, a true marvel of our era. Sparked by this knowledge I became interested in electromagnetics and in the idea of something that is invisible, but still interacts with the universe in the most profound sense. Light not only illuminates our world, but it also has made us evolve, it is our currency for visual perception and its concepts are far reaching as it manifests in everything that we lay our eye upon. What do you think? Consider the concept of the optical spectrum and look for anything that might resemble it in your surroundings, soon enough you will find something. And, if you really want to find the truth… Let yourself be guided by the light!