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Novel Optical Materials and Applications (NOMA)

26 July 2021 – 29 July 2021

The conference will focus on the modeling, design, synthesis, assembly and patterning of optical materials, new optical behavior emerging in these materials, and novel optical devices and applications, including imaging systems, lasers, LEDs, nanoscale devices, quantum photonics, bioinspired optics, biophotonics, waveguides and fibers, sensors, detectors, biomimetic materials, and other new and emerging areas. 


1. Soft and Bioinspired Photonics
Biomimetic materials
Bio-inspired optics
Liquids and soft optical materials
Liquid crystals

2. Nanophotonics
Metamaterials and metasurfaces
Optical thin films

3. Emerging Quantum and Tunable Materials
Phase-change materials
Two-dimensional materials
Materials for quantum photonics

4. Advances in Fabrication and Design
Additive manufacturing and laser-assisted fabrication of materials
Artificially engineered and self-assembled optics
Flexible optoelectronics and photonics

5. Machine learning and Autonomous Design
Machine learning for materials applications
Optimization for materials design
Theory and computations of light-matter interactions

6. Breakthroughs in Traditional Optical Materials
Nonlinear materials
Laser materials
Materials for aerospace applications
Materials for solar and LEDs
Materials for fiber optics
Materials for light detection



  • Federico Capasso, Harvard UniversityUnited States
    New Approaches to Polarization Optics and Structured Light with Metasurfaces  Keynote
  • Yi Cui, Stanford UniversityUnited States
    Reinventing Textiles with Photonic Functionality for Sustainability  Keynote
  • Roger Hanlon, Marine Biological LaboratoryUnited States
    The Octopus as Tech: Exploring the Biology and Technological Potential of Nature’s Master of Color Change Keynote
  • Andrea Alu, University of Texas at AustinUnited States
    Magnet-free Approaches for Nonreciprocal Photonics  Tutorial
  • Jonathan Fan, Stanford UniversityUnited States
    Machine Learning for Simulating and Designing Nanophotonic Devices Tutorial
  • Sedat Nizamoglu, Koc UniversitesiTurkey
    Optoelectronic Neural Interfaces - Fundamentals and Applications  Tutorial
  • Ali Adibi, Georgia Institute of TechnologyUnited States
    Manifold Learning for Knowledge Discovery in Optical Metamaterials
  • Alexandra Boltasseva, Purdue UniversityUnited States
    Advancing Photonic Design and Quantum Measurements with Machine Learning
  • Darryl Boyd, US Naval Research LaboratoryUnited States
    Comonomer Isomers Result in Varied Optical Properties Within ORMOCHALC Polymers
  • Kuo-Ping Chen, National Chaio-Tung UniversityTaiwan
    Tunable Bound State in the Continuous with Metasurfaces and Anisotropic Medium
  • Thomas Cronin, University of Maryland Baltimore CountyUnited States
    Biological Optics: Evolutionary Inventiveness in Light Control
  • Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, University of AdelaideAustralia
    New Approaches to Hybrid Fibers with Novel Functionalities for Sensing and Nonlinear Photonics Applications
  • Viktor Gruev, Univ of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUnited States
    Bioinspired Polarization and Multispectral Imagers for Image Guided Cancer Surgery and Underwater Geolocalization
  • Deidra Hodges, University of Texas at AustinUnited States
    Synchrotron and Optical Probing of Mixed Halide Perovskites for Photovoltaics
  • Tetyana Ignatova, North Carolina A&T; State UniversityUnited States
    Probing Optical Response of 2D Heterostructures across Interface
  • Rafael Jaramillo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Refractive and Phase-change Uses of Layered and 2D Materials for Integrated Photonics
  • Sonke Johnsen, Duke UniversityUnited States
    The Diverse Structures Underlying Ultrablack Coloration in Tropical Butterflies and Deep-sea Fish
  • Mathias Kolle, MITUnited States
    Biological Growth and Optical Manufacture of Structurally-colored Materials
  • Paulina Kuo, National Inst of Standards & TechnologyUnited States
    Domain-engineered PPLN for Tailored Spontaneous Parametric Downconversion
  • Mo Li, University of WashingtonUnited States
    Integrated Photonic Neural Networks Using Phase-change Materials
  • Tengfei Luo, University of Notre Dame
    Thin-Film Metamaterial Optical Diode Designed Using Machine Learning
  • Maiken H. Mikkelsen, Duke UniversityUnited States
    Metasurfaces for Ultrafast Pyroelectric Photodetectors
  • Daniel Morse, University of California Santa Barbara
    Reflectin’s Finely Tunable, Impedance-Matched, Amplifying Biophotonic System
  • Robert T. Murray, Imperial College LondonUnited Kingdom
    CdSiP2 Based Mid-infrared Optical Parametric Sources Pumped with Raman Fiber Amplifiers
  • Thuc-Quyen Nguyen, UCSB
    Organic Semiconductors for Opto-electronic Devices
  • Francesca Palombo, University of Exeter
    Probing the Micromechanics of Bioconstructs Using Brillouin Microscopy
  • Evan Reed, Stanford University
    New Photocathode Materials Identified by Data Driven Discovery
  • Junsuk Rho, Pohang Univ of Science & TechnologyRepublic Of Korea
    Inverse Design and Forward Modelling in Nanophotonics Using Deep Learning
  • Raktim Sarma, Yale UniversityUnited States
    All-Dielectric Polaritonic Metasurfaces : From Strong Light-Matter Interaction to Extreme Nonlinearities
  • Vladimir Tassev, Air Force Research Laboratory United States
    Heteroepitaxy of GaP, GaAsP and ZnSe on OP-GaAs Templates – a Reasonable Solution in Development of Frequency Conversion Laser Sources in the MLWIR
  • Silvia Vignolini, University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
    Biomimetic Colour Engineering form Nature to Applications
  • Virginia Wheeler, US Naval Research LaboratoryUnited States
    Atomic Layer Deposited VO2 Thin Films: Benefits towards Novel Device Architectures and Functionality
  • Peter Wiecha, CNRSFrance
    Generalized Nano-optics Fields Predictions and Inverse Design of Complex Transmission Matrices Enabled by Deep Learning
  • Yu Yao, Arizona State UniversityUnited States
    Ultrafast Optical Modulation Based on Graphene-plasmonic Hybrid Metasurfaces
  • Heayoung Yoon, University of UtahUnited States
    Nanocontacts Probing Heterogeneous Local Optoelectronic Characteristics of Thin-Film Solar Cells
  • Weihua Zhang, Nanjing UniversityChina
    Towards 3D Heterogeneously Integrated Nanophotonics Through Deterministic Assembly



  • Lynda Busse, US Naval Research Laboratory, United StatesChair
  • Mikhail Kats, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United StatesChair
  • Jonathan Fan, Stanford University, United StatesProgram Chair
  • Woei Ming Lee, Australian National University, AustraliaProgram Chair
  • Ishwar Aggarwal, Univ of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States
  • Andrea Armani, USC, United States
  • Jennifer Choy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
  • Stephen Foulger, Clemson University, United States
  • Alon Gorodetsky, University of California Irvine, United States
  • Shekhar Guha, US Air Force Research Laboratory, United States
  • Roman Holovchak, Austin Peay State University, United States
  • Jonathan Hu, Baylor University, United States
  • Juejun Hu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
  • Garo Khanarian, Consultant, United States
  • Howard Lee, Baylor University, United States
  • Yongmin Liu, Northeastern University, United States
  • Yu-Jung Lu, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
  • Arka Majumdar, University of Washington, United States
  • Feng Miao, Nanjing University, China
  • Jason Myers, US Naval Research Laboratory, United States
  • Sedat Nizamoglu, Koc Universitesi, Turkey
  • Dario Pisignano, University of Pisa, Italy
  • Barry Rand, Princeton University, United States
  • Orad Reshef, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Thomas Searles, Howard University, United States
  • Brandon Shaw, US Naval Research Laboratory, United States
  • Yakov Soskind, Apple Inc., United States
  • Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, University of Utah, United States
  • David Woolf, Physical Sciences Inc, United States
  • Seok-Hyun Yun, Harvard Medical School, United States
  • Kevin Zawilski, BAE Systems , United States
  • Chenglong Zhao, University of Dayton, United States


Plenary Session

Shanhui Fan

Stanford University

Synthetic Dimension: Topological Physics and Optical Computing

About the Speaker

Shanhui Fan is a Professor of Electrical Engineering, a Professor of Applied Physics (by courtesy), a Senior Fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy, and the Director of the Edward L. Ginzton... 

Anna Fontcuberta i Morral

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

New Materials and Structures for Photodetection

Some compound semiconductors such as GaAs and InGaAsP exhibit a high absorption coefficient in the photon energy of interest for solar energy conversion. The direct bandgap associated with strong tuneability of emission wavelength, renders compound semiocnductors the material of choice for optoelectronic applications. Their commercial potential in high production volume applications is reduced due to the scarcity (and thus high cost) of group III elements such as In and Ga. In this talk we present approaches to render the use this kind of materials sustainable: a strong reduction in material use through nanostructures and the replacement of III-V compounds by GeSn or Zn3P2 that contain much more abundant elements. We find nanostructures also provide a path to increase light collection and provide some instructions for optimal devices[1,2]. We explain how these materials can be fabricated with high crystal quality, opening the path for the creation of alternative and sustainable compound semiconductor solar cells [3-5].

[1] P. Krogstrup et al Nature Photon 7, 306 (2013)

[2] A. Dorodnyy et al IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics 24, 1-13 (2018)

[3] S. Escobar Steinvall et al Nanoscale Horizons 5, 274-282 (2020)

[4] R. Paul et al, Crys. Growth. Des. 20, 3816–3825 (2020)

[5] S. Escobar Steinval et al. Nanoscale Adv. 3, 326 (2021)

About the Speaker

Anna Fontcuberta i Morral is Spanish physicist and materials scientist. Her research focuses on nanotechnology applied in the production of solar cells. She is a Full Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the head of the Laboratory of Semiconductor Materials.

Son Thai Le

Nokia Bell Labs

Progress on Optical Single-sideband Transmission

There are only two modulation schemes which have been commercially deployed in fiber optical communications, namely the intensity modulation (IM) and the dual-polarization Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) schemes. These two modulation schemes, however, are very different in term of spectral efficiency, implementation’s complexity, transmission performance and reliability. Compared to the IM scheme, single sideband (SSB) modulation scheme can offer enhanced transmission performance and spectral efficiency. While SSB scheme has lower spectral efficiency than dual-polarization QAM scheme, it can provide additional functionalities, lower complexity and higher reliability. Because of these unique features, SSB modulation can be a suitable modulation format for several emerging applications such as dispersion tolerant DWDM regional and access networks, data center interconnect, optical network monitoring and 5G mobile fronthaul. In this talk, we will review the recent progress of optical SSB modulation for these applications and discuss its potential for commercialization in the near future.

About the Speaker

Son Thai Le is an optical transmission systems researcher at Nokia Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ, USA. He obtained his PhD in January 2016 from Aston University, UK. After that he joined the Digital Signal Processing department at Nokia Bell Labs in Stuttgart Germany. From May 2019, Son Thai Le has been with Nokia Bell Labs in NJ, USA. Son Thai Le has demonstrated many transmission records in reach, capacity and spectral efficiency of Nonlinear Frequency Division Multiplexed and short-reach direct detection systems. His current research interests include optical single-sideband modulation, short-reach direct detection and new signaling and architecture for 5G mobile fronthaul. In 2018, Son Thai Le was awarded as “Innovator under 35 Europe” and “Innovator of the year (Germany)” by MIT Technology Review for his contributions in fiber optical communications. He was the recipient of the “Best Paper Award” prizes at the German Information Technology Association (ITG) in 2018 and at NICS in 2019.

Keynote Speaker: Eli Yablonovitch

University of California, Berkeley

Light Trapping in Perspective; Not Just for Current, it Boosts Voltage Too

Almost all commercial solar panels use Light Trapping which increases the internal optical path length by 4(n squared), increasing the current, where n is refractive index.  In spite of numerous ingenious attempts, that classical enhancement factor has not been superseded.  It is sometimes over-looked that operating point Voltage also increases, by (kT/q)ln{4(n squared)}~100mVolts.

About the Speaker

Eli Yablonovitch is Director of the NSF Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), a multi-University Center headquartered at Berkeley. Yablonovitch introduced the idea that strained semiconductor lasers could have superior performance due to reduced effective mass (holes). With almost every human interaction with the internet, optical telecommunication occurs by strained semiconductor lasers. He is regarded as a Father of the Photonic BandGap concept, and he coined the term "Photonic Crystal". The geometrical structure of the first experimentally realized Photonic bandgap, is sometimes called “Yablonovite”. He was elected to NAE, NAS, NAI, AmAcArSci, and as Foreign Member, UK Royal


Special Events

Symposium: Forty Years of Light Management

Forty years ago, in December 1981, Eli Yablonovitch submitted his seminal paper on “Statistical Ray Optics,” which was one of the first papers investigating light management for solar cells from a fundamental physics perspective.

Light management has mainly been performed with antireflective coatings and textures, which enhance the average light path and hence, absorption in the solar cells. In the last twenty years highly innovative concepts were also investigated, such as (quasi)periodic structures, plasmonic nanostructures, Bragg reflectors, and photonic up- and downconversion. On the other hand, state-of-the-art silicon solar cells have almost perfect light trapping with external quantum efficiencies close to 100% for a broad wavelength range using only conventional light trapping techniques.

With this symposium, we aim to bring together leading experts in the field representing all the light management concepts investigated during the past forty years. We will critically review different light trapping techniques developed in the past decades and discuss, how the field may and should develop further.

Bioinspired Optics: From Fundamental Biology to Tools and Applications

NOMA Symposium outline:

The thematic focus of this symposium will be on the interdisciplinary area of bioinspired optics: specifically, understanding nature’s optical design principles and leveraging them for the development of novel optical tools. The talks will cover various approaches in biomolecular engineering and nanofabrication methodologies, which strive to emulate some of the unique light-manipulating capabilities of living systems, as well as the implementation of new optical characterization strategies. The symposium aims to encourage interdisciplinary discussion, with the simultaneous hope of identifying new research opportunities in bioinspired optics and photonics, advancing fundamental biological understanding, and accelerating next-generation optical tool development. Through our cross-disciplinary focus, we are striving to cultivate a cohesive and inclusive community of scientists at all career stages and from across all demographic groups.

Symposia Chairs: Woei Ming Steve Lee, Australian National University, Alon Gorodetsky, University of California Irvine

Keynote: Roger Hanlon The Octopus as Tech: Exploring the biology and technological potential of nature’s master of color change Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, USA

Session 1 – Bio-inspired systems

  1. Sonke Johnsen, "The diverse structures underlying ultrablack coloration in tropical butterflies and deep-sea fish" Duke University, USA
  2. Dan Morse “Bioinspired biophotonics” University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
  3. Silvia Vignolini, “Biomimetic colour engineering form nature to applications” University of Cambridge, UK
  4. Thomas Cronin, “Biological Optics:  Evolutionary Inventiveness in Light Control  University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA

Session 2 – Bio-inspired tools

  1. Viktor Gruev, “Bioinspired Polarization and Multispectral Imagers for Image Guided Cancer Surgery and Underwater Geolocalization”, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA
  2. Francesca Palombo, “Optical measurement of mechanical and chemical properties of biomaterials and tissues” University of Exeter, UK
  3. Mathias Kolle, “Biological growth and optical manufacture of structurally-colored materials” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Tutorial:  Optoelectronic Neural Interfaces - Fundamentals and Applications

Speaker: Sedat Nizamoglu, Koc University, Turkey


Image for keeping the session alive