The United Kingdom and Ireland have long been considered world-leaders in research and technology development in optics and photonics. It was with the intention of consolidating the activities and achievements of these two regions, and expanding opportunities for collaboration between academia and industry that the UK and Ireland Photonics Chapter was reinstated in 2017. The Chapter is comprised of both academic staff and experienced industry leaders with a common goal to promote and co-operate in educational and technical activities, contributing to the useful expansion of the field of photonics and its applications.
We quickly identified the need for a UK and Ireland flagship event that showcased both industrial and academic advances in optics and photonics and promoting collaboration.
Last December we held the 1st IEEE British and Irish Conference on Optics and Photonics (BICOP 2018). The Royal Society, the oldest scientific institution in the world, proved to be the perfect venue and, with Christmas around the corner, London made for a beautiful and magical setting.
The conference was opened by Carol Monaghan (MP) who is globally recognised for her contributions as Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Photonics. Our guest speaker, scientist and broadcaster Maggie Adrin-Pocock MBE gave an inspiring account of her journey to become one of the foremost astronomers in the country and described how photonics may provide the key to interstellar travel in our lifetimes.
The theme for our first BICOP conference was “Women in Photonics”, so we were very pleased to hear a talk from Dr Lidia Galdino, who was named as one of the 2017 “Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35” by The Telegraph and Women in Engineering Society. She is currently the Associate Vice President of IEEE’s Women in Photonics initiative, a cause that is of significance to the organising committee of BICOP.
The essence of the conference was of course the rich diversity of superb talks spanning both industry and academia including talks from IBM, BT, Microsoft, BAE Systems, Toshiba, Huawei, Seagate, Senko, PureLifi, Kaiam, IQE, NPL, Cobham, mBryonics, University of Cambridge, University College Cork, University of Southampton, University of St Andrews, Keio University and the Fraunhofer Institute.
The broad range of topics addressed included photonic integrated circuits, laser effects, graphene-based photonics, photonics in healthcare, cloud solutions for optics, challenges in optics and photonics with the rise of 5G, and optical circuit board technologies.
The best paper, best invited talk and best poster awards went to Dr Sebastian Schulz (University of St Andrews), Prof Graham Reed (University of Southampton) and Ryosuke Hatai (Keio University) respectively.