From ground‑breaking research in silicon photonics fueling advances in multiple technologies, to revolutionary research on supermassive black holes, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) recently recognized 2 researchers from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) with one of Canada's highest scientific honours.
On November 27, 2020, the NRC's Dr. Pavel Cheben and Dr. Laura Ferrarese were officially inducted as Fellows into the RSC. The peer‑elected recipients were chosen for their outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievements.
Dr. Pavel Cheben, Principal Research Officer with the Advanced Electronics and Photonics Research Centre, is internationally known as a global leader in integrated photonics, with several ground‑breaking contributions in silicon photonics fueling fundamental advances in multiple technologies, including optical communications, molecular sensing and on‑chip spectrometry.
His invention of the metamaterial waveguide has revolutionized integrated photonics, allowing to create a new type of optical properties, often not existing in nature, directly on a photonic chip, while enhancing the performance of many integrated photonic devices.
"Today, the photonic chips are being widely used for transmitting data in telecommunication networks and data centres, which form the backbone of the internet,"
Metamaterial waveguides have been widely adopted by industry and academia, and new devices with unprecedented performance are being reported from groups around the world. The applications extend far beyond telecom and datacom and include biochemical sensors, spectroscopy, quantum photonics, or building LiDARs (light detection and ranging) to navigate our autonomous cars.
Dr. Cheben is also the most published NRC scientist of the last decade.
We asked Dr. Cheben what he finds most rewarding about his job:
"I've been fortunate to work with very talented people and many excellent students. I feel a deep satisfaction when I see that perennial fascination with light in the eyes of our young scientists."
Dr. Laura Ferrarese, Principal Research Officer with the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, is an internationally recognized astrophysicist, known for her original and ground‑breaking research on supermassive black holes (SBH), the age of the universe, and the evolution of galaxies.
"We find that virtually all galaxies host, at the centres, black holes millions to billion times more massive than the Sun… although we still don't know how such gargantuan black holes form, my research has helped establish that they have a profound effect on the galaxies in which they live,"
She provided some of the first conclusive evidence of SBHs in the centre of nearby galaxies, and discovered fundamental connections between SBHs and their hosts. Her work on SBHs and on the expansion rate of the Universe has made her one of the most cited astronomers in the world.
We asked Dr. Ferrarese what inspires her most about her research:
"To me, astronomy is about the exhilaration of discovery and sharing that excitement with people across the world. Astronomy is about the opportunity to inspire people, in Canada and abroad, with the wonders of the Cosmos."