In short, my research and design of optical fibers relies heavily on a highly interdisciplinary approach that marries waveguide engineering and materials science. We owe many of the amazing capabilities of optical fiber to the pioneering work of materials scientists, whose efforts resulted in the mass-production of the low-loss optical fibers which connect our modern world. However, optical fibers do have limitations and that has inspired waveguide designers to develop a wide range of fiber structures that enhance the capabilities of fiber-based systems. Well-known examples include dispersion shifted and tailored fibers, polarization maintaining fibers, and ‘holey’ (or micro- and nano-structured) fibers, to name a few. As such, optical design (predominantly utilizing silica as the material medium) has traditionally driven most, but not all, advancement in the field of optical fiber technology.
Modern fibers’ performance has largely plateaued (with the limitations typically taking the form of a maximum allowable optical power), and this has inspired a new thrust in specialty fiber design that is largely rooted in conventional wave propagation methodologies. However, the vast majority of these waveguide designs offer only incremental improvements to the systems utilizing them. It is precisely this apparent technological stagnation that has inspired my team and I to recognize that materials science can help solve many of the challenges and limitations which waveguide design alone could not. Once we recognized that parasitic phenomena in optical fiber systems relate to a controllable material constant or coefficient, many of which can take on zero- or near-zero-values, it became clear that the performance limiters can be removed simply by prohibiting the unwanted interaction from ever taking place. In short, we have learned how to design these materials systems to achieve optical performance never before seen. It is important to note that this work also extends to the enhancement of said properties of certain material systems, including crystalline, for next generation applications that rely heavily on these processes, such as integrated optical and photonic circuits.
Our current work mainly focuses on bringing materials science back into the mainstream of fiber design. Only by coupling materials science and engineering with electromagnetics will optical fiber capabilities sharply improve in the next decade. This will enable the incredible potential of optical fiber based systems, some of which I am actively pursuing: spectroscopic and coherent lidar systems, optical fiber sensing systems, high power fiber laser technologies, and communications systems. The emerging technological renaissance in fibers systems is manifested in our publications and patents.
Three specific examples of current multidisciplinary projects include:
1) Hypersonic acoustic wave engineering of glass optical fiber
2) Bridging a gap between next generation laser sources and active sensing systems such as LIDAR
3) Designing glasses and optical materials for novel optical fiber and waveguide applications
- Coherent optics/imaging
- Lasers and optical physics
- Modeling and simulation of laser systems
- Optical communications
- Photonic crystals
- Photonic integrated circuits (PICs)
- Radar and LIDAR
- Radio and optical wave propagation
- Remote Sensing
- Semiconductor lasers and photonic devices
- Electronics, Plasmonics, and Photonics
- Photonics: optical engineering and systems
- Sensing systems
Selected Articles in Journals
- Editor’s Pick Paper. M. Tuggle, C. Kucera, T. Hawkins, D. Sligh, A.F.J. Runge, A.C. Peacock, P. Dragic, and J. Ballato, “Highly nonlinear yttrium-aluminosilicate optical fiber with high intrinsic stimulated Brillouin scattering threshold,” Optics Letters, vol. 42, no. 23, pp. 4849-4852 (2017),
- Invited Paper. Cover Article. J. Ballato and P. Dragic, “Glass: The Carrier of Light – A Brief History of Optical Fiber,” International Journal of Applied Glass Science, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 413-422 (2016).
- P.D. Dragic, C. Ryan, C.J. Kucera, M. Cavillon, M. Tuggle, M. Jones, T.W. Hawkins, A.D. Yablon, R. Stolen, and J. Ballato, “Single- and few-moded lithium aluminosilicate optical fiber for athermal Brilloiuin strain sensing,” Optics Letters, vol. 40, no. 21, pp. 5030 – 5033 (2015).
- J. Ballato and P. Dragic, Invited Paper, "Rethinking optical Fiber: New Demands, Old Glasses," Journal of the American Ceramic Society, vol. 96, no. 9, pp. 2675 - 2692, 2013.
- P.D. Dragic, P. Foy, T. Hawkins, S. Morris, and J. Ballato, “Sapphire-derived all-glass optical fibers,” Nature Photonics, Vol. 6, pp. 629 – 635, 2012.
- C.G. Carlson, P.D. Dragic, R.K. Price, J.J. Coleman, and G.R. Swenson, Invited Paper, “A narrow-linewidth, Yb fiber-amplifier-based upper atmospheric Doppler temperature lidar,” IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 451 – 461, March/April 2009.
- ECE 329 - Fields and Waves I
- ECE 350 - Fields and Waves II
- ECE 465 - Optical Communications Systems
- ECE 466 - Optical Communications Lab
- ECE 495 - Photonic Device Laboratory
- ENG 198 - Special Topics
- ENG 298 - Special Topics
- ENG 491 - Cubesat 1
- ENG 491 - Cubesat 2
- ENG 491 - Nanosatellite Design Build 1
- ENG 491 - Nanosatellite Design Build 2
- ENG 498 - User-Oriented Collaborative De