Michal Lipson Wins the 2019 IEEE Photonics Award

Jun 28 2018 | By Holly Evarts

Michal Lipson, Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and professor of applied physics, as well as a Columbia Nano Initiative Executive Committee member, has been named the recipient of the 2019 IEEE Photonics Award for her outstanding achievements in photonics. Among IEEE's most prestigious honors, the Photonics Award is part of the IEEE Awards Program which, for nearly a century, has paid tribute to technical professionals whose exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions have made a lasting impact on technology, society, and the engineering profession. Lipson is the first faculty member from Columbia University to receive the award, which represents the highest honor bestowed by the IEEE Photonics Society.

Michal Lipson

“This is such a great honor—I feel humbled and very grateful,” says Lipson, one of the pioneers at the forefront of silicon photonics research.

Lipson investigates the physics and applications of nanoscale photonic structures and is particularly interested in light-confining structures that can slow down, trap, enhance, and manipulate light. “Nanophotonics can provide high bandwidth, high speed, and ultra-small optoelectronic components,” she notes. “This is truly an exciting field to be working in as our technology can revolutionize telecommunications, computation, and sensing, connecting our worlds in all kinds of new ways.”

Lipson’s research focuses on areas where nanophotonics has a big impact, both fundamentally and technologically. Her main areas of research include novel photonic materials and fabrication, silicon photonics and non-reciprocity, nano-magnetism and thermal control, nanophotonics for neuroscience, optomechanics, nonlinear and quantum optics, and sensing and optofluidics. She holds over 20 patents, has authored over 200 technical papers, and has received numerous awards and accolades for her work in the field.

Lipson’s work has played a major role in advancing the field of silicon photonics. Among many of her discoveries she has demonstrated the first silicon photonics GHz modulator for transmitting electronic signals over large distances with low power. Today silicon photonics is being commercialized extensively. It is one of the very few areas in applied physics ever to be adopted by industry less than 10 years after its conception. Her research interests are constantly evolving to keep up with important trends, and her Lipson Nanophotonics Group now includes expertise in areas ranging from imaging of the brain to energy recycling.

Lipson, who joined the Columbia Nano Initiative and the electrical engineering faculty at Columbia Engineering in 2015, has received extensive honors, including the Optical Society’s (OSA) R. W. Wood award, MacArthur Fellowship, Blavatnik Award, IBM Faculty Award, and the NSF Early Career Award. Since 2014 she has been named every year by Thomson Reuters as a top 1 percent highly cited researcher in the field of physics. She has held several leadership positions in the scientific community, including serving on the boards of the IEEE Photonics Society and OSA.

Professor Lipson narrates this video about nanophotonics.