Monday, June 18, 2012

Today's highlights and the lunch conundrum

First day of the conference and we are off to a great start. On one hand the conference has multiple parallel sessions and many great talks, on the other hand there arent as many attendees as I had expected (a la OFC). All good though, because the slightly smaller setting allows more interaction with participants.

I began my day with Phillip Russell's plenary talk on nanoscale glass blowing and then attended two sessions mainly: Theory, Modelling and Numerical Simulations and the session on PBG and PCF fibers. Two things stood out for me:

1. Non-conventional fibers: in several of the talks on fibers (Russell's plenary, SM3E.1, SM3E.2, SM3E.5  for example) new fiber structures/functionalities were explored. More and more, there is an interest in exploring unconventional non-hexagonal airhole microstructure or inclusions. Some designs included twisting the fiber while drawing to get a helical airholes that precess, some involved kagome type structures for band gap guidance, while other involved fibers with negative curvature ( air holes arranged along the circumference ). I find this exciting because some of these ideas resonate with my own ideas and work on non hex fibers- and how it frees our thinking and creativity. More on that soon...

2. In modelling, the new thing now is to look at system level modelling of several components on a chip similar to electronics. This is hugely challenging, because the length scale of devices and certain effects can be very different, but have to be handled together. As can the time scale of certain phenomena such as thermal effects on one hand and an optical phenomena on the other. Then there is the aspect of many wavelengths in WDM applications that need to be handled, while multiple physcial effects play a part. This implies that for those of us who work on simulation there is an altogether different challenge now that takes us to a whole new level. Exciting!

Now the lunch conundrum: in between sessions we have an hour long lunch break. As the conference hotel is a resort (away from town) there arent many restaurants one can run to for a quick bite. the resort restaurants serve great food, but being upmarket places, these take time. So its difficult for them to cater to all the delegates and still have everyone served and off within the hour. Thus the conundrum, shall I risk being late for a talk and enjoy a delicious though sightly pricey lunch, or shall I sustain myself for the day on coffee? How would you solve this?

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