Ultrafast Photonic Signal Processing: A Quarter Century Perspective

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Lasers capable of generating picosecond and femtosecond pulses of light are now firmly established and widely deployed.  Going beyond simple pulse generation, the programmable shaping of ultrafast laser fields into arbitrary waveforms has resulted in substantial impact, both enabling new ultrafast science and contributing to diverse applications.   Ideas such as Fourier signal processing form one of the foundations of electrical engineering.  A grand theme in my research, now over several decades, centers on extension of such ideas to photon signals and to much faster time scales (picoseconds and femtoseconds) and exploration of new opportunities thereby enabled.   In this lecture I will begin with a brief introduction to ultrafast optics and specifically to methods permitting shaping of ultrafast laser fields on time scales too fast for direct electronic control. For contrast I will first provide some brief perspective on the state of my research around the time I came to Purdue (1992).  Then I will move on to more recent and current research, including photonically-assisted radio-frequency arbitrary waveform generation with application to ultrabroadband wireless propagation in highly scattering indoor environments, broadband optical signal generation and control using integrated chip-scale optical microresonators, and application of pulse shaping to correlated photon wave packets in the quantum regime.


Andrew Weiner is the Scifres Family Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.  In 2008 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering and in 2009 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 3000 papers a year emphasizing innovations in all aspects of optics and photonics.  After Prof. Weiner earned his Sc.D. 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 Member of Technical Staff and later as Manager of Ultrafast Optics and Optical Signal Processing Research.  He joined Purdue as Professor in 1992, and has since graduated over 30 Ph.D. students.  Prof. Weiner has also spent sabbaticals at the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Ultrashort Pulse Spectroscopy, Berlin, Germany and at JILA, University of Colorado and National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado.

Prof. Weiner’s research focuses on ultrafast optics, with a focus on processing of extremely high speed lightwave signals and ultrabroadband radio-frequency signals.  He is especially well known for his pioneering work on 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.

Prof. Weiner is author of a textbook entitled Ultrafast Optics, has published eight book chapters, over 300 journal articles and 500 conference papers, and is inventor of 16 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), the Provost's Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award (2008), the Herbert Newby McCoy Award for outstanding contributions to the natural sciences (2013), and the College of Engineering Mentoring Award (2014).

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Andrew M Weiner (2015), "Ultrafast Photonic Signal Processing: A Quarter Century Perspective," http://nanohub.org/resources/22227.

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