Optical and Photonic Solutions Blog


Employee Spotlight: Meet Dr. Luc Gilles From the Synopsys Optical Engineering Team

Meet the newest principal engineer of imaging optics of our Optical Engineering Services team, Dr. Luc Gilles.

Dr. Luc GillesI have been passionate about physics and, more particularly, optics, since childhood. Raised in Brussels, Belgium, I spent much of my childhood reading scientific magazines, playing piano, swimming, biking, springboard diving, hiking and skiing in the Alps.

As part of a team of young scientists in Brussels, I participated in the construction of the homemade helium mercury-vapor laser described in the October 1980 issue of “The Amateur Scientist.” During my final year studying Physics at the Catholic University of Louvain, I worked on a research project in atomic physics with Professor Bernard Piraux and a team of scientists at the University of Oxford, England. One of them, Professor Artur Ekert, who was developing what would soon become quantum cryptography and quantum computing, convinced me to apply for a fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in quantum optics at Imperial College in London in the group of Professor Peter Knight. I was awarded the fellowship and did my doctoral dissertation on analysis and numerical simulations of light produced by a microlaser consisting of a single atom in an optical resonator. Light produced by such devices features unique properties that can only be described by quantization of the electromagnetic field, e.g., sub-Poissonian photon count statistics that have a variance smaller than the mean.

Following my stay at Imperial College, I joined a team of scientists in Madrid, Spain, to work on numerical simulations of quantum and nonlinear optics devices.

I was invited by Professor Jerome Moloney to the University of Arizona and by Professor Susan Hagness to the University of Wisconsin, who introduced me to numerical simulations of photonic devices using the Finite Difference Time Domain method.

I enjoyed visiting the U.S. and decided to work with Professor Curtis Vogel at Montana State University on an atmospheric optics program funded by the U.S. Air Force. Professor Vogel introduced me to numerical optimization, inverse problems, Fourier optics, and adaptive optics. Working across those various fields proved to be challenging, but I enjoyed the learning experience, and loved skiing and hiking around Bozeman in the Rocky Mountains. I am grateful to Professor Vogel for mentoring me and providing opportunities to attend conferences.

In 2005, I was recruited by Dr. Brent Ellerbroek, head of the Adaptive Optics (AO) group at the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project in Pasadena, California, to work on the design of an AO system with multiple deformable mirrors, each with thousands of actuators. During my 15 years at TMT, I learned about AO system design, systems engineering and project management, and had the opportunity to work with project partners in Canada, China, and Japan. Dr. Kai Zhang from the Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics and Technology (NIAOT), designer of the TMT AO corrected infrared spectrograph, and Professor Ryuji Suzuki from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), designer of the TMT AO corrected imager, introduced me to optical design of astronomical instrumentation.

After reading about the lens design methods of Dave Shafer, I decided to take online courses in aberration theory and lens design at the University of Arizona while working full time at TMT. I enjoyed the courses so much that I decided to enroll in the master’s program. Going back to graduate school after more than two decades and while working full time wasn’t easy, but after five years of commitment and hard work, I completed the program with a thesis in lens design with aspheric and freeform mirrors. I am indebted to Professor Sasian and Dave Shafer for their help and support throughout my study at the University of Arizona. After completing the program, I worked for TMT as a consultant on the design of the TMT laser launch telescope.

In August 2020, I joined the Optical Solutions Group at Synopsys. I am thrilled to be a member of Synopsys’ imaging optical engineering services team. My goals are to learn from my colleagues, excel in providing optical engineering services to customers worldwide, and develop innovative design methods and tools.

I am a firm believer that passion and commitment drive enthusiasm, teamwork, and success in the long term. I have been guided throughout my life by my deep passion for science and engineering, and I am grateful for my parents, mentors and colleagues who have helped me achieve my goals.

During my free time, I enjoy listening to piano, swimming, biking, hiking, skiing, and traveling with my family.

Skiing with family in Mammoth Lakes, California, May 2017

Hiking in Zermatt, Switzerland, June 2017

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