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The science of light: Wood wins Autumn 2015 Presidential Fellowship

Michael WoodIn the ever-progressing field of high-speed communications research, an engineering student at The Ohio State University is racking up awards for his work using the power of light to create faster and more effective computer systems.

Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD student Michael Wood recently won the prestigious Ohio State University Graduate School Presidential Fellowship for Autumn 2015. He also took first prize in the 2015 Emil Wolf Outstanding Student Paper Competition Award for his integrated photonics research.

"I am honored to win both of these prestigious awards," Woods said. "Taken together, they show recognition for my research work at both the general research community and within my narrow sub-field of integrated optics."

Photonics is the science of generating and directing particles of light for use in technologies such as fiber optics, lasers, remote sensing or even holography. Integrated photonics is performed at the nanoscale, enabling higher numbers of electronic and photonic functions on a single microchip.

Wood specializes in silicon (Si) photonics, which involves carrying data as light signals through integrated optical waveguides, or nanoscale versions of fiber optic cables. He said it is one way engineers are able to provide larger bandwidths for high performance computing systems and data centers.

The Ohio State Gradate School’s Presidential Fellowship recognizes “outstanding scholarship and research ability” and provides winners with funding necessary to focus their efforts full time on dissertation research. It is considered the most competitive scholarly recognition the Graduate School offers. The award includes a taxable monthly stipend of $2,168 for up to three terms or until graduation. Wood’s fellowship also pays his academic tuition and fees, health insurance, free university B-lot parking, plus a $250 travel allowance to help encourage presentations of his research at professional meetings.

Regarding Wood’s top research paper award, the Optical Society Foundation’s (OSA) Emil Wolf Outstanding Student Paper Competition recognizes the innovation, research excellence and presentation abilities of students showing their work at the Frontiers in Optics Conference (FiO) and the OSA Annual Meeting.

As winner, Wood receives a complimentary OSA student membership, a cash stipend of $300 and an award certificate.

Joining Wood in his research efforts are ECE professor Ron Reano and graduate research associate Justin Burr at the Ohio State ElectroScience Laboratory.

As part of Reano's group, Wood and Burr have designed and experimentally verified a new class of on-chip resonant cavities known as degenerate band edge (DBE) resonators. Resonant cavities are fundamental components for photonic networks used in high-speed communications systems. DBEs offer greater miniaturization and effectiveness compared to other on-chip resonator designs.

In his most recent paper, Wood expanded the application area of DBE resonators by demonstrating a design compatible with both passive and active Si photonics.

Read the team’s full award-winning research paper HERE. Their work is supported through funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ohio Space Grant Consortium.