I always get this sense of excitement when I step into the labs of other research groups. I am intrigued by the stories behind their setups, the motivation behind the work and the way they organize themselves in the labs. Researchers spend days, weeks and even months building and constructing workstations, and each lab has its own unique fingerprint of the researchers who have built and equipped it. This column gives you an insight into labs around the world, to the Ph.D. students and postdocs who helped shape them and their motivation behind it all. In this episode of Photonics Worldwide—This Is My Lab, we would like to introduce you to Shaohua An, who is doing his Ph.D. at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, Ming Jin, a Ph.D. student at the Peking University in China and Martin Wafula, who is in his second year of his Ph.D. at the University of Oxford in the UK. Would you also like to share your lab, your work and the story behind it? Please get in touch and let us know, we would love to hear from you!

Senta Jantzen

My name is Shaohua An, a Ph.D. student at the Department of Electronic Engineering of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. Since I am interested in optical communications, I decided to start my Ph.D. in the Optical Transmission and Integrated Photonics (OTIP) lab under the supervision of Professor Yikai Su in 2016.

The work during my Ph.D. was focused on advanced direct-detected optical fiber transmission systems. I enjoy developing various digital signal processing algorithms to improve the system performance, extend the transmission distance, and lower the cost of the system. It is exciting to see the proposed algorithms work in the fiber transmission systems.

I am Ming Jin, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Xingjun Wang at Peking University, China. During my bachelor’s degree in Optoelectronic Information Science and Engineering, I found interest in optical sensing at the chip scale. I decided to pursue my career in this domain.

Currently, I am investigating and exploring novel chip-scale optical methods to detect nano-objects—ultrafine particles with radii down to sub-micrometer, for example viruses, ions, and polymer nanobeads. They are believed to have a serious impact on body health. Respiratory disease, circulatory system disease and even organ dysfunction syndromes could occur as nanoparticles can easily enter the human body and penetrate the skin or the lungs. Therefore, monitoring the ultrafine particles is becoming increasingly important for the evaluation of hazards. At first, I had no idea on doing such a project. There are some inherent disadvantages in using photonics chips; for example, the sidewall roughness and existing sensing schemes are resonance dependent, which makes them susceptible to environmental disturbances. To overcome these difficulties, I turned my attention from interaction enhancement to noise
elimination of the sensing system.

My work focuses on optical sensing and detecting of micro-and nanoparticles at photonic chip based optical sensors. Considering the impact of particulate matter on the environment and health, my work investigates how a single-beam optical trap configuration can help in counting, sizing and measuring the refractive index of particles with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) in real-time with an effectively unlimited device lifetime.

My name is Martin Wafula. I am in my second year reading a Ph.D. in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford.

Before coming to Oxford, I spent my life living and studying in Kenya, where I completed my undergraduate studies at the Multimedia University of Kenya. I am a member of the Information and Network Science (INS) lab. My area of research is on compression of random graphs. Large random graphs can be used to model different networks; for example, random geometric graphs (RGG) can model communication networks.

We are interested in studying how compression of these large networks can be used for better system performance, such as using the knowledge of network entropy to improve anomaly
detection in the network.

I chose this lab since the research focus here is in line with my interest. Furthermore, the leader of the lab, Prof. Justin Coon, has done a lot of groundbreaking research in this area.