21 November, 2022
By David Murphy
Qiaoqiang Gan, KAUST professor of material science engineering, was recently elected as an Optica Fellow (formerly OSA). Professor Gan was among the 109 members from 24 countries elected to the Society’s 2023 Fellow Class. The applied physicist joins a notable group of members who have served the optics and photonics community with distinction.
Optica Fellows are selected based on several factors, including distinguished contributions to education, research, engineering, business and community service. Gan—who is acknowledged as a world-renowned expert in light-matter interaction for nanosensing and green photonics—was elected as a fellow due to his “outstanding contributions in the fields of optical nanosensing and green photonics.”
Serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, he has published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal papers on wide topics related to photonics and energy sustainability.
His Optica citation summarized two of Gan’s current research themes: on-chip optical biomedical sensing and photonics for energy harvesting and conversion for sustainability. Specifically, his research activities aim to bridge the gaps between fundamental investigation, application development and technology transfer.
“It is my honor to be elected as a Fellow of Optica,” he said of his election. “I am extremely excited to be recognized as a member of such a respected group of leaders in optics and photonics.”
Unlocking optical phenomena
Gan joined KAUST in late 2021 from the University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York, U.S., where he held a full professor position within the UB Department of Electrical Engineering. Building upon his background in photonics and semiconductor materials, his current research is more closely linked to thermal management, energy and environmental sustainability and bioengineering.
At present, Gan is applying nanomaterial and structure processing and engineering to investigate fundamental light-matter interaction in extreme dimensions. Moreover, he is developing advanced manufacturing methods to demonstrate how these optical phenomena can be used to monitor biomedical conditions, conserve energy and ensure environmental sustainability.
While at KAUST, he hopes to build on in-Kingdom opportunities presented for his startup company, Sunny Clean Water Inc. The company was founded in 2017 with the aim of providing clean, safe, and reliable water around the globe. Thus, ending potential water crises in a simple, affordable way.
The development of solar water purification and electricity-free cooling technologies are key interest areas and targeted research drives for both KAUST and Saudi Arabia.
“Sustainable access to water, food and health care are key research strategic long-term goals set by KAUST and the Kingdom,” Gan emphasized. “Another major focus of my Sustainable Photonics Energy Research (SuPER) Lab’s work is enhancing the optical sensing capability for disease detection by exploring enhanced light-matter interactions and smart sensing mechanisms. Consequently, I am developing collaborative efforts with colleagues in the KAUST Smart Health Initiative and Artificial Intelligence Initiative programs.
“I am happy with the active research environment at KAUST and am looking for opportunities to contribute to Vision 2030 with my expertise, research and entrepreneurial activities,” he concluded.