ICO/ICTP Gallieno Denardo Award winner: Dr G K Samanta
April 2017 Number 111
Dr G K Samanta of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India, is the 2017 recipient.
Dr Goutam K Samanta received BTech and MTech degree in optics and optoelectronics from the University of Calcutta in 2002 and 2004 and a PhD in photonics from the Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO), Barcelona, Spain, in July 2009. He joined Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, India, in September 2010, where he started new experimental research in nonlinear and quantum optics. Dr Samanta has produced high-quality research work at the international level from his own group, which have been substantiated by several publications in leading journals including Optics Letters, Scientific Reports, and Optica. He has started a new and unique research topic by combining his expertise in nonlinear optics with the structured beams to study the structured optical beams with different spectral and spatial properties and perform quantum entanglement studies. His most exciting work that has drawn great attention among the international community, is the demonstration of optical parametric oscillators producing high-power coherent and tunable optical beam in Airy intensity distribution. These Airy beams, a non-diffraction waveform, have peculiar properties of self-healing and self-acceleration useful for curved plasma wave-guiding, micro-particle manipulation, long-distance communication, and nonlinear frequency conversion. This work was accepted as a post-deadline paper, one of the top 25 innovative and cutting-edge research papers in the field of photonics, at CLEO/USA in 2015. He is now being recognized for his work through the invited talks at different national and international conferences including Europhoton 2016, Austria, and Photonics West 2017, San Francisco, USA. He also chaired a session at CLEO/USA in 2015. He has more than 100 technical contributions in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. His thesis was awarded with prestigious Excellent Cum Laude and the best thesis award by Indian Laser Association. He is a life member of Indian Laser Association and a regular member of the Optical Society of America and SPIE. He is a regular reviewer of around 15 peer-reviewed journals in the field of optics and photonics including Optical Letters and Optics Express.
In addition to his regular research activities, Dr Samanta has a keen interest in promoting optics and photonics among school and college students in India through hands-on experiments. After joining PRL, he started an outreach program called “Experiments with light” and also established a student chapter in PRL with PhD students as its members. So far he has devised more than 40 hands-on basic experiments to explain many optical phenomenon in our daily life including “what is the need of two eyes”, “why sky is red at sunrise and sunset?”, “principles of fibre optics communication” and advanced experiments including optical tweezer, and effect of polarization in double-slit interference pattern. He also distributes optics kit comprising polarizers, 2D grating and a liquid crystal sheet to the students. So far, Dr Samanta and the student chapter members have demonstrated their experiments to more than 10,000 students in Gujarat, India.
In the past three years, Dr Samanta, has been involved in two programs, advanced BSc for the undergraduate students of Gujarat and Physics Training and Talent Search (PTTS) for the undergraduate students from different parts of India, to motivate students for experimental research. These are 2–3 weeks residential programs where the students are given one- or two-line problem and asked to design an experiment. To add to the challenge and to encourage the students to think out of the way, they are asked to design the experiment with a budget of less than $5. Some of the experiments are “measure the sugar and salt concentration in a solution using an optical technique” and “develop experimental setup to demonstrate inline optical cloaking”. These programs are highly popular among the students and hopefully some of these students will choose optics and photonics as their career.
Dr Samanta has also initiated an annual conference named Students’ Conference in Optics and Photonics (SCOP) for professional development of their PhD students. This is a two-day conference, organized by the students and participated by the students along with few invited talks by young faculties of different institutes of India and a plenary talk by an eminent scientist sponsored by the Optical Society of America through its travelling lecture program. Due to such initiative, the PhD and postdoctoral students from different parts of India visit PRL with full funding and share their research and build networking among themselves. In its second year, the conference has already started getting appreciations from different parts of the research community.