Opinion: 'A very dynamic year for the Optical Fiber Sensing group'
"2022 was a very dynamic year for the Optical Fiber Sensing group, where we continued developing and promoting fiber sensing technology based on specialty fibers and advanced sensor fabrication techniques for different applications and domains." Professor Tigran Baghdasaryan reviews the year in his research group at B-PHOT.
Based on the achievements of our PhD students, we had quite a busy year.
Ben Cloostermans continued his activities in developing smart fiber sensing solutions for flange connections in collaboration with a company ERIKS. Last year he managed to implement a dedicated fabrication and instrumentation approach that produces repeatable gaskets with optical fiber sensors within. The first results of the project were published in the journal of Mechanical Systems & Signal Processing. He has also presented his pioneering approach for smart gasket sensing at the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) conference, where he was awarded with the 2nd prize for the best paper in the PhD category.
Artemii Tishchenko continued exploring specialty highly doped and microstructured optical fibers for the applications in non-linear optics. He investigated fiber designs that allow for efficient second harmonic generation, when ultrashort pulses are used. Last year, he published his first paper in the Optics Express journal, where he has shown for the first time that simultaneous modal phase matching and group velocity matching are possible in a single waveguide design. He is currently working on another novel and elegant approach for phase matching in fibers with a paper in a process of preparation.
Olga Rusyakina continued promoting photonic crystal fiber-based sensing probes for bio-detection. Last year her first paper was published in the Journal of Lightwave Technology, where she introduced her new (patented) sensing technology. She showed that by writing straight fiber Bragg gratings in specially designed photonic crystal fibers one can excite a limited set of cladding mode resonances that can be used for bio-sensing and allow for multiplexing such sensors. Indeed, last year she also demonstrated proof-of-concept bio-detection of HER2 proteins with her sensor. A paper on this breakthrough claiming the first-ever multiplexing of fiber grating-based plasmonic biosensors on a single optical fiber probe will be published soon.
Sergei Mikhailov finalised his PhD research on the topic of distributed pressure sensing with photonic crystal fibers by publishing his latest achievements in the Optics Express journal and successfully defending his PhD in private session in December. He designed, fabricated and tested a novel highly birefringent microstructured optical fiber that allows for distributed optical fiber-based pressure measurements with unprecedented sub-bar pressure resolution and 1 m spatial resolution. Sergei has been the first researcher at Optical Fiber Sensing group at B-PHOT to work on the topic of distributed fiber sensing. We are happy to see Sergei joining our postdoc team after his public PhD defence and promoting the topic of distributed fiber sensing even further with newly funded BOPTIC and OPTIMESH projects.
2022 was also a year of big changes. One of our key principal investigators prof. Thomas Geernaert, who was part of the group since the beginning, departed to join VARIO Flemish Advisory Council for Innovation and Enterprise as an expert and policy advisor. We wish Thomas all the best in his new endeavours! Myself as a senior postdoc, I was promoted to the position of research professor. I will lead activities on in-house development of novel fiber sensors enabled by femtosecond laser micromachining technology. Together with prof. Francis Berhgmans and the postdoc team, I will coordinate the activities of the group for the coming years. Meanwhile, our postdocs were actively involved in different research topics in 2022. Sidney Goossens focused more on industrial fiber sensing applications and projects. With a rich experience that he gained from a large-scale Horizon2020 SHERLOC project (finished in 2022), he coordinated the group's contribution for FWO ContactLub, as well as newly launched FiberMech and SAFOS projects. Our other postdoctoral researcher Agnieszka Gierej was actively involved in the Horizon2020 ORIGIN project, where she was focused on the development and fabrication of two innovative single point optical fiber dosimeters for brachytherapy.
Last but not least, following the trend, we asked ChatGPT to best describe the year for our group based on 4 keywords: “completed projects”, “new projects granted”, “published papers” and “success of students”. And here is the answer: “A year for a research group can be described as productive and successful if they have a combination of completed projects, new project grants, published papers, and successful students. Finishing projects demonstrates the group's ability to complete work efficiently and effectively. New project grants indicate the continued recognition of their work and the trust placed in them by funding organisations. Published papers showcase the group's contributions to their field and advance the state of knowledge in the area of research. The success of students highlights the group's commitment to training and mentorship, ensuring the continuation of their research efforts in the future. Overall, a year with these achievements marks a positive and impactful year for the research group.”
Looks like a nice summary of the year 2022 to me! We can agree or not with the statements made by an AI chatbot, criticise or praise the new realities, but we should all accept that the world is changing even faster with all the new technologies. With optical fiber sensors, we often face a similar challenge, as we are continuously putting efforts to introduce our alternative, advantageous and often expensive technology to the domains prevailed with traditional solutions. It does not always go easy, but we see the evolution and with the years our hard work pays off.