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Dr Jonathan Silver joins City's optical sensor researchers on Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship

The recipient of the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering UK Intelligence Community (IC) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship will work alongside Professors Kenneth Grattan and Tong Sun, and at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), with Dr Pascal Del’haye.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

The Government Office for Science has established a small number of UK Intelligence Community (IC) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, awarded to outstanding early career science or engineering researchers to promote unclassified basic research in areas of interest to the intelligence, security and defence community.

The Fellowships are awarded in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the UK’s National Academy for Engineering.  Fellows identify key research topics and work locally with University Research Advisors to develop innovative research proposals, collaborating with an advisor from the Intelligence Community.

Dr Jonathan Silver has been awarded one of these prestigious Fellowships to work at City with Professors Kenneth Grattan and Tong Sun and at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with Dr Pascal Del’haye.

The project is based on the highly topical field of dielectric optical microresonators, exploiting their small mode volumes combined with their ultra-high Q factors enable them to generate a wealth of nonlinear optical phenomena at optical powers of milliwatts or even microwatts. Much of the recent research has been focused the production of Kerr frequency combs, which have applications in atomic clocks and frequency metrology, as well as in spectroscopy and telecommunications. In addition, microresonators have been used as near-field sensors, both for nanomechanical motion and for refractive index, the latter of which can allow the detection of chemical and biological substances even down to the level of a single biological molecule.

Jonathan is experienced in this area. He recently discovered a spontaneous symmetry breaking effect occurring when a ring resonator is simultaneously pumped with light in both circulating directions. This has applications in optical switching, isolators and circulators, as well as the ability to enhance the sensitivity of several kinds of microresonator-based sensors by many orders of magnitude.

In a few years’ time, the technology will exist to combine a laser and an ultra-high-Q waveguide microresonator onto the same chip, opening the door to commercialising all these applications. This project will lay the groundwork for exploiting this exciting opportunity.

Professor Grattan said:

"We are delighted that Jonathan has been awarded this prestigious Fellowship which reflects his expertise in this cutting-edge area of physics and technology. We look forward to working with him and colleagues at NPL to tackle some challenging, but potentially highly rewarding problems".

Dr Silver is delighted to have received his Fellowship. He said:

"I am absolutely delighted to have received this award, which will give me the opportunity to expand my research in this exciting field with so many potentially revolutionary applications. I look forward to working with Professors Grattan and Sun and Dr Del’Haye over the coming two years to solve some central challenges and move towards realising a range of new microresonator-based sensing technologies".

Dr David Haynes, a researcher in City's Centre for Information Science is also a recipient of the Royal Academy of Engineering IC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.

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