Photonics is the science of generating and harnessing light, and impacts a wide range of areas, including telecommunications, gas sensing, medical imaging and astronomy. Photonics research and postgraduate education at CIT primarily involves staff and postgraduate students from the Faculty of Science. Research is conducted within the Photonics Cluster, which incorporates the three following groups.
Photonic Device Dynamics Group
The Photonic Device Dynamics Group (www.physics.cit.ie/photonics) is part of the Department of Applied Physics & Instrumentation, and is also a member of the Tyndall National Institute (www.tyndall.ie) through the CIT@Tyndall collaboration. The group’s research focuses on the dynamics of semiconductor materials and devices, in particular novel quantum dot devices and optical injection and feedback in semiconductor lasers. Research capabilities include two-colour pump-probe spectroscopy, time-resolved photoluminescence spectroscopy, and the non-linear dynamics of semiconductor mode-locked lasers. The group has several state-of-the-art pieces of equipment, such as a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, a universal streak camera, and a Ti:Sapphire femtosecond laser.
The Centre for Advanced Photonics & Process Analysis or CAPPA (www.cappa.ie) is an industry-led applied research group working in the fields of optics and photonics. The centre, which commenced work in July 2008, is funded by Enterprise Ireland's Applied Research Enhancement Programme. CAPPA has strong links with the fundamental research of the Photonic Device Dynamics Group(www.physics.cit.ie/photonics) while actively engaging directly with industrial partners. Given the regional industrial profile and its needs, the target sectors for CAPPA include medical devices, pharmaceuticals, electronics and naturally photonics itself. Current industrial partners include: Alcon (www.alcon.com), Epi-Light (www.epi-light.com) and Logitech (www.logitech.com).
Astronomy and Instrumentation Group
The Astronomy and Instrumentation Group (www.bco.ie) concentrates its activities in the areas of instrumentation research and quasar research. This includes the development and use of new instrumentation and data-analysis techniques to support astronomy research, and the study of quasar optical variability on short time-scales (~5 min), intra-day variability in optical and radio wavelengths, and transverse polarization structure of parsec-scale radio jets. In particular the group concentrates on the following research areas:
- High Precision Photometry using CCDs
- Automated reduction pipelines to handle large volumes of data
- Robotic telescope systems
- Radio Observations of compact AGN (Active Galactic Nuclei).
The AIG is also involved in a major international research effort in the field of Very High Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy called VERITAS (http://veritas.sao.arizona.edu ). CIT researchers are working primarily within the areas of instrument development and data analysis and are regular visitors to the VERITAS site in Arizona. The Very High Energy Gamma Rays detected by VERITAS telescopes come from some of the most violent physical processes in the universe and so offer a window to scientists who are seeking to understand why the universe behave the way it does.