The 2021 winner of the annual Bernard Couillaud Prize wants to use photonics to make the world a better place. Dr. Bowen Li of the University of Colorado has developed a new kind of laser that can measure pollutants with greater accuracy and sensitivity than ever before, amongst other things. For example, it could enable remote measurements of microplastics in seawater. The laser is nicknamed CANDi by Li, which we think is a sweet name for a great invention.
Funded by Coherent and presented jointly by the Optical Society of America (OSA), the Bernard Couillaud Prize “recognizes early-career professionals making a significant contribution in ultrafast photonics.” Dr. Li has certainly achieved exactly that by developing a new breed of so-called “dual-comb” ultrafast lasers that are 100X more powerful than anything before.
This type of laser is needed for performing incredibly accurate measurement–like the timing of atomic clocks needed for global positioning (SatNav, GPS), and measuring trace amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in power plant stacks. Now, Dr. Li plans to apply his powerful CANDi laser for applications like sensing pollutants in seawater. He explains that’s partly why they named the company Poseidon, after the Greek god of the sea.
The prize has a total value of $25,500 (U.S.) and Dr. Li indicates he plans to split the funds to do more research in his academic lab while also helping to accelerate the building of some demo units for Poseidon. At Coherent, we think that is a perfect way to honor the memory of Bernard Couillaud, who made a similar transition from Academia to industry - eventually becoming CEO of Coherent.
Watch a video of our own Marco Arrigoni chatting with Bowen Li about his research and the Couillaud Prize to learn more.
We offer our warmest congratulations to Dr. Li.