1259th OGM and Christmas party

“How to store light: an optical memory based on sound waves”

Moritz Jak Kelly 2017 revised  
  Moritz Merklein
  Department of Physics
  University of Sydney

  Jak Kelly Award winner for 2017

Wednesday 6 December 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

The Jak Kelly Award was created in honour of Professor Jak Kelly (1928 - 2012), who was Head of Physics at University of NSW from 1985 to 1989, was made an Honorary Professor of University of Sydney in 2004, and was President of the Royal Society of NSW in 2005 and 2006. Its purpose is to encourage excellence in postgraduate research in physics. It is supported by the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Institute of Physics, NSW branch. The winner was selected from a short list of candidates who made presentations at a recent joint meeting at UNSW of the Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the Royal Society of NSW.

The Jak Kelly Award was presented to Moritz Merklein by John Hardie FRSN, a past president of the Society.

In his lecture Moritz presented a memory for optical data that is based on sound waves and has the potential to revolutionize next-generation computer chips. Today, mediating heat is one of the most significant challenges in computing, particularly in large data centres. Photonic interconnects can solve this challenge, connecting different processing units without generating heat, while offering a broad bandwidth and data throughput. However, the vast speed of light is imposing new challenges on these integrated circuits that harness light as information carriers, requiring an optical memory to slow down information for buffering, synchronization, re-routing and further processing of the data. Controlling the speed of light is challenging, and so far no method has been developed that reaches the required bandwidth, the fractional delay, and is compatible with complex optical data encoding schemes, and least of all can be integrated into a photonic circuit. Transferring the optical data to sound waves can provide a powerful solution to this challenge, enabling to slow down of the flow of information on the chip. It is like storing a flash of lightning inside thunder.

Moritz Merklein received his Physics Diplom from the University of Konstanz, Germany in 2012. His thesis dealt with the fabrication of silicon nitride nanostructures and the characterisation of their mechanical modes using ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy. Moritz joined the stimulated Brillouin scattering group in the Department of Physics at The University of Sydney as a PhD student in 2014. During his PhD, he has made significant contributions to the field of stimulated Brillouin scattering, which describes the interaction between sound and light waves. His research supervisors are Professor Benjamin Eggleton and Dr. Birgit Stiller. During his PhD studies, he served as the president of the University of Sydney optics student chapter and has engaged in many outreach activities.

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