Signal Processing at Light Speed: Ultrashort Optical Pulse Generation with Arbitrary Waveforms

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Lasers capable of generating picosecond and femtosecond pulses of light are now firmly established and are widely deployed. Professor Weiner’s pioneering work on programmable shaping of ultrafast laser fields into arbitrary waveforms has resulted in substantial impact, both enabling new ultrafast science and influencing practical applications in transmission of high-speed lightwave and wireless signals. The lecture begins with a brief introduction to ultrafast optics and then specifically addresses methods permitting shaping of ultrafast laser fields on time scales too fast for direct electronic control. Several examples illustrating a new area of science — in which researchers worldwide use shaped laser pulses as tools to manipulate nanoscopic and quantum mechanical processes, including simple photochemical reactions — will be described. The final section of the lecture focuses on recent work from the Weiner Laboratory in which pulse shaping and related photonic processing tools are applied to enhance transmission both of lightwave signals over fiber optic cables and of wireless signals in highly scattering indoor propagation environments.


Andrew Weiner is the Scifres Family Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2008 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, and in 2009 he was named a Department of Defense National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow.

Weiner recently served a three-year term as Chair of the National Academy’s U.S. Frontiers of Engineering meeting. At present, he serves as editor-in-chief of Optics Express, an all-electronic, open-access journal publishing more than 3,000 papers a year emphasizing innovations in all aspects of optics and photonics.

After Weiner earned his ScD in electrical engineering in 1984 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined Bellcore, at that time a premier telecommunications industry research organization, first as a member of technical staff and later as manager of Ultrafast Optics and Optical Signal Processing Research. He joined Purdue as a professor in 1992 and has since graduated 30 PhD students.

Professor Weiner’s research focuses on ultrafast optics, with an emphasis on processing of extremely high-speed lightwave signals. He is known for his advancements in the programmable generation of arbitrary ultrashort pulse waveforms, which has found application both in fiber optic networks and in ultrafast optical science laboratories around the world.

He is the author of a textbook entitled Ultrafast Optics, has published eight book chapters and more than 270 journal articles. Weiner holds 15 U.S. patents. His numerous awards include the Hertz Foundation Doctoral Thesis Prize (1984), the Optical Society of America’s Adolph Lomb Medal (1990) and R.W. Wood Prize (2008), the International Commission on Optics Prize (1997), and the IEEE Photonics Society’s William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award (1999) and Quantum Electronics Prize (2011).

At Purdue, he has been recognized with the inaugural Research Excellence Award from the Schools of Engineering (2003) and with the Provost’s Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award (2008).

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Andrew M Weiner (2013), "Signal Processing at Light Speed: Ultrashort Optical Pulse Generation with Arbitrary Waveforms,"

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