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Photonics for on-chip particle accelerators and augmented reality

ECE Seminar

Location: EER 3.646
Zhexin Zhao
Department of Physics at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Photonics brings new opportunities in many fields. In this talk, I will present two photonic research directions: (1) nanophotonic on-chip particle accelerators, and (2) photonic design for augmented reality display.

Particle accelerators are important for science, medicine, and industry. To make accelerators more accessible and enable new applications, researchers envision an on-chip particle accelerator, called a dielectric laser accelerator (DLA). DLAs utilize the strong field in the laser to accelerate electrons and have an order of magnitude higher acceleration gradient than conventional accelerators. One key challenge of DLAs is the low current throughput. I will talk about a design of DLAs to increase the current throughput. DLAs can enable many applications including quantum engineering. I will present a potential application of DLAs in quantum sensing.

Augmented reality (AR) is a promising technology to provide personalized assistance, training, communication, and entertainment. The AR experience depends critically on the quality of the optical display system. In this part, I will talk about challenges in AR optical display systems and photonic design for key components. 


Dr. Zhexin Zhao received the bachelor degree in electronic engineering from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 2015, and the Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering (with Ph.D. minor in physics) from Stanford University, U.S., in 2018 and 2021, respectively. From 2021 to 2023, Dr. Zhao was a research scientist in Reality Labs Research at Meta, working on photonic design for the augmented reality near-eye display. Dr. Zhao is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Physics at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. She received the Stanford Graduate Fellowship (2016), the Robert H. Siemann Fellowship (2020), EECS Rising Stars (2023), and SPIE Women in Optics 2024. Her research focuses on photonics, including electromagnetic theory, light-matter interaction, free electron acceleration and modulation, and photonic design for augmented reality.