Frontiers in Photonics: Dr. Alex Small

Photonics@UCI presents the last Frontiers in Photonics seminar of the Spring Quarter 2014, and it is presented by Dr. Alex Small, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

Interesting connections in optics, and a question I don’t know the answer to

The most amazing thing about science is that not only does it answer deep questions and help us build amazing technologies, the pieces of science actually fit together (most of the time).  Most of my research effort is on understanding how much information can be extracted beyond the diffraction limit.  However, the concept of the diffraction limit itself turns out to be somewhat poorly-defined, and has an interesting exception:  If you are willing to tolerate huge side-lobes in your focal spot, you can make a focal spot with a central peak that is much narrower than the conventional diffraction limit.  One can understand this either in terms of information theory or in terms of wave optics.  This should be somewhat disconcerting, because information theory is a theory of randomness, while wave optics is a deterministic theory.

I will point to a few other results in optics that can be understood in terms of very different theories:  The Abbe Sine Condition (which can be understood in terms of Hamiltonian optics, wave optics, or thermodynamics) and the impossibility of a 2-way mirror (which can be derived from considerations of time-reversal symmetry or thermodynamics).  I will then speculate that if information theory imposes limits on how sharply light can be focused, there must be a connection to thermodynamics, and it probably involves Brownian motion in optical traps.


Place: Natural Sciences II, first floor, room# 1201

Date and Time: Friday, 23rd May at 2pm.

Light refreshments will be served.