Lazy days in Delhi

I am in Delhi right now – part work and partly a holiday. The work bit is attending the Workshop on Recent Advances in Photonics (WRAP) at IIT Delhi, my alma mater.

Its been a great opportunity to hear some brilliant speakers- David Payne, Govind Agrawal, Wolfgang Freude, C. Jagdish, Kent Choquette, and others. The networking is also brilliant- I have had a chance to meet several young researchers in leading institutions in India who are setting up new labs in Photonics and opening up new areas of research. Then there is the connecting with old colleagues and friends from my student days.

One would think that attending a workshop while on holiday would be a drag. Surprisingly, its been anything but. I have had so much fun catching up with friends and colleagues, over tea breaks in the weak sunshine…talking about our teachers, exchanging gossip and life stories. It has made me feel both relaxed and lazy – a combination one rarely associates with attending a conference.

One thing that i really liked about the workshop was that it brought together students and researchers from across India, many of whom would not be travelling to many larger international conferences, and gave them an opportunity to hear the latest work in the field from globally leading figures. On the other hand many of the young attendees had out up posters and were able to get feedback on their work and ideas from these leading figures in a relatively relaxed and stress free environment. This kind of exposure can be invaluable and inspiring.

Lest you think i haven’t heard a single talk and only chatted with friends, i will summarise two of my favourite talks from the workshop:

The first by Govind Agrawal was about adiabatic wavelength conversion in resonators. The key idea is that the wavelength (or frequency) modes of a resonator depend on the refractive index
and length of the cavity. By changing the refractive index, the resonant frequency changes and this causes the energy stored in the resonator to transfer to the new resonant frequency.
This fairly simple principle was applied and experimental results were presented as corroboration.

The second talk that i enjoyed tremendously was by Sidharth Ramanchandran on optical fibers with an annular refractive index profile, exhibiting modes with Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) that does not change as the modes propagate. The phase or OAM shows a spiral dependence (looks like an archimedean spiral to me!).

Now I shall endeavour to follow up on the contacts I made and enjoy a coffee with my teachers from my graduate days.


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