ITMO University’s International Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials has recently hosted the Summer School on Topological Photonics. In the course of five days, young researchers – Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD students – listened to lectures by leading specialists from Russia, Europe, the US, and Korea. The event brought together over 60 participants from many Russian cities, as well as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Mexico, Turkey, and other countries. The school was followed by the 4th International Conference on Metamaterials and Nanophotonics METANANO 2019.
Organized by the International Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials of ITMO University for the fourth time, the summer school is aimed at Master’s and PhD students, engineers and postdoctoral researchers. Compared to last year’s schools, which were dedicated to a wide range of topics, this school focused solely on topological photonics, a rapidly emerging field of research in which geometrical and topological ideas are applied to design and control the behavior of light.
“It took us quite a long time to come up with the topic for this year’s Summer School. First, we looked at what competencies we had in our Center. Second, we attempted to understand what topics are the most relevant today,” comments Andrei Bogdanov, the General Chairman of the Summer School, a staff of the International Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials. “Topological photonics is now one of the most topical research fields. What’s so interesting about it? Today we use fiber optics lines for fast and cheap internet. It even allows transmitting signals across the ocean. However, it’s not that trouble-free. One of the existing problems with using fiber optics cables is that if you occasionally band the cable, the signal will be reflected and will go in a different direction. Topological photonics, in its turn, allows for the creation of such waveguide systems that only produce waves propagating in one direction. Thus, research in this area opens up a lot of prospects, in particular, associated with creating compact integrated optical circuits.”
This year’s Summer School was supported by ITMO University’s Optical Student Chapter and the Optical Society (OSA), an international professional community of researchers, engineers, lecturers, students and businesspeople working in the field of optics and photonics.
“This is our first time working on a joint project with the Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials, but I can already say that this experience is a good one. The School was very well-organized, on par with the best European professional summer schools. I really hope to push this collaboration further in the future,” says Mikhail Khodzitsky, a scientific adviser at the Optical Student Chapter at ITMO University.
In the course of five days, participants of the Summer School listened to lectures by top experts in the field of topological photonics from universities of Russia, Europe, and the US. Among the lecturers were Alexander Khanikaev (The City College of New York, the USA), Dmitry Solnyshkov (Institut Pascal, France), Alexander Poddubny (The Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia), Alexander Poshakinsky (The Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia), Daniel Leykam (The Institute for Basic Science, Korea), Stanislav Polonsky (Samsung), as well as staff of ITMO University’s International Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Anton Nalitov, Ivan Iorsh and Maxim Gorlach.
As for the format of the Summer School, it was, in fact, a single course comprised of a series of interconnected lectures, shares Andrei Bogdanov. The lecturers use the principle of scaffolding starting with simpler things and gradually moving to more complex ones. All lectures are accompanied by practical tasks, as well as separate tasks for individual study. The School ends with the discussion of the latest advances and problems in the field and a written exam.