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The All-Virtual OSA Advanced Photonics Congress is a Wrap!

Suzanne Ffolkes, OSA Chief Communications Officer

The first all-virtual OSA Advanced Photonics Congress has come to a successful conclusion. More than 3,700 registrants from 84 countries joined us for the congress held 13 – 16 July 2020 to engage with distinguished plenary speakers, presenters and volunteers. The congress is among many all-virtual events presented by OSA to registrants at no cost for a more inclusive experience. The high-quality content featured eight topical meetings showcasing the latest advances in photonic device research and development and use in networks. Registrants can access the recorded sessions here.

Plenary speakers included Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial College London, UK and 2018 OSA President; Jelena Vuckovic, professor, Stanford University, USA; Marin Soljacic, professor of physics at MIT; and Ben Eggleton, director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute (Sydney Nano). Topics ranged from advances in quantum information processing technologies and nonlinear integrated circuits to implementation of quantum photonics and new opportunities with nanophotonics.

Among the technical presentations, one titled “Artificial Phototropism and Phototaxis: Photo-responsive Materials for Light Tracking and Soft Robotics (NoTu1C.3”´by Professor X. He) described research to mimic the way sunflowers follow the sun by finding materials that behave like a sunflower. The idea is to maximize the exposure to the sun by following its movement throughout the day. Plants do their tracking by having certain cells expand in response to sun light. Professor He came up with a “SunBot” – a hydrogel that expands when sun light hits parts of it and is able to automatically track the sun.

OSA Advanced Photonics Congress Co-Chair Klaus Jaeger:

“As a chair of the PVLED topical meeting I would like to congratulate The Optical Society (OSA) for organizing the Advanced Photonics Congress at a superb professional level. Even though all the attendees were sitting in their offices or apartments all around the planet, I somehow felt like being at a real conference. Besides the conference sessions and coffee breaks, the Digital Forum running on a Discord server enriched the conference experience as it allowed the attendees of the conference to get in discussion with each other. I found the Digital Forum especially useful for discussions with the fellow committee members and OSA staff. Lastly, I am very happy that OSA organized an LGBTQ and allies Meet & Greet at the congress, which enabled a very fruitful discussion.”

OSA Advanced Photonics Congress Co-Chair Benjamin Yang:

“The willingness of conference organizers, volunteers, and participants to experiment with the virtual format in 2020 yielded many unexpected positive outcomes. The lowered barrier to participate enabled by the virtual setting not only increased turnout but also broadened the reach of the Congress to new populations. In particular, I am excited by the increased participation of students (1,241 of 3,729 participants) and the record number of attendance by countries with low-income or lower-middle income economies. Despite the virtual setting, I witnessed intimate exchanges between speakers and students in the Meet the Speaker events. The Discord platform brought out a different subset of “digital extroverts” who were enabled through an additional avenue for networking. While recognizing that some aspects of the conference were lost in the virtual environment, I am thrilled by the positive outcomes that we discovered this year. The experience inspired me to help transform the future of technical conferences to sustain these results and broaden our societal impact.”

The next OSA Advanced Photonics Congress is scheduled for late July 2021 in Montreal, Canada.

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