We are pleased to announce the winners of the Synopsys 2022 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition. Our annual competition celebrates exceptional research projects designed by college students in North America using Synopsys Optical Solutions software. The competition is open to students working toward a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.
We thank all the students who submitted an impressive body of work for this competition and applaud the diversity of optical and photonic applications represented in the submissions.
This year’s winning designs were submitted by students from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, the University of Arizona, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of Rochester, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Aria Amini is an undergraduate in electrical engineering at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Amini received an award for the project titled, “Modified 1×4 MMI,” which describes the design of a multimode interference (MMI) coupler, a nano-scale photonic component used as a waveguide in data communications. Amini used RSoft Photonic Device Tools for the project.
“I am honored to receive this award for my modified 1×4 multimode interference coupler,” said Amini. “Synopsys optical design tools have enriched my understanding of optical engineering and allowed me to explore novel designs that interest me.”
John DeBoer is an undergraduate in electrical engineering at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. DeBoer received an award for the project titled, “Design and Analysis of a Double Ring Resonator Using RSoft FullWAVE.” The project describes the design of a double ring resonator in FullWAVE FDTD for use as a tunable bandpass filter for wireless communications.
“I am honored to have my design recognized, and I would like to thank Professor Dennis Derickson at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for his support,” said DeBoer.
J’Nai Lawrence received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Lawrence received an award for the project titled, “1×3 and 1×2 MMI Splitter,” which outlines the development and optimization of an MMI to split optical power. Lawrence used the RSoft Photonic Device Tools for the project.
“I am honored to be selected as one of the winners for the competition,” said Lawrence. “Learning how to use Synopsys optical design tools was a gratifying and fun challenge. I’d like to thank Dr. Dennis Derickson for his introduction to photonics, and Dr. Ying Zhou and Craig Pansing of Synopsys for introducing us to the CODE V and RSoft tools.”
Shaobai Li is a Ph.D candidate in optical sciences at the University of Arizona. Li received an award for the project titled, “Modeling of DMD-Based Chromatic Confocal Microscope with Freeform Prisms,” which demonstrates the use of LightTools software to design a microscope containing a digital micromirror device (DMD) for 3D imaging used in biomedical systems and industrial surface profiling.
“I am very glad to receive an award for my project,” said Li. “LightTools is powerful tool that helped me build, simulate, and validate the system. I would like to thank my advisor, Professor Rongguang Liang, for his help and guidance in this project. I also want to thank Synopsys for this competition and for providing software for academic use.”
Luke DeMars is a Ph.D candidate in optical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. DeMars received an award for the project titled, “Optical modeling of generalized mid-spatial-frequency surface errors.” DeMars used CODE V to model and predict the performance of optical systems containing residual mid-spatial frequency (MSF) surface errors from sub-aperture manufacturing. DeMars’ research is part of an ongoing project with the Center for Freeform Optics, which partners with universities and industry organizations to advance freeform optical technologies.
“I want to thank Synopsys for this award and for the educational license and technical support they have provided,” said DeMars. “In addition, I would like to thank my advisor, Professor Thomas Suleski, and mentors from the Center for Freeform Optics for their guidance and support. MSF surface errors are a fascinating and important research area, and I hope that the tools that we have developed within CODE V continue to enable exploration and deeper understanding of this topic.”
Adam Briggs is a graduate student at the University of Rochester. Briggs received an award for the project titled, “Design Study of a Polarization Insensitive, Freeform Climate Science Imager.” Briggs used CODE V to complete a design study of freeform imaging components for spaceborne instrumentation.
“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Briggs. “This project gave me the chance to explore the polarization analysis functionality in CODE V when applied to high-performance freeform systems. I’d like to thank the mentorship provided by Dr. Julie Bentley and Dr. Aaron Bauer. Their support has been invaluable in my development as a lens designer. I would also like to thank Synopsys for their continued support for the next generation of optical engineers.”
Connor Heckman is an undergraduate student in biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester. Heckman received an award for the project titled, “Far Red: Diffraction Limited Water Immersion Two-Photon Objective for In-Vivo Imaging.” Heckman used CODE V to design a two-photon laser scanning microscopy system for biology research.
“I am honored to receive this award,” said Heckman. “The process of designing the two-photon objective and exploring various solution spaces was a lot of fun, providing me with many learning experiences. I would like to thank my professor, Georg Nadorff, for his advice and encouragement throughout the completion of this design. I would also like to thank Synopsys for the tools and student license used to produce this system.”
Erin O’Kane is an undergraduate student in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. O’Kane received an award for the project titled, “1.4 NA Immersion Microscope Objective for MPLSM Imaging of Tissue-Cleared Kidney.” O’Kane used CODE V to design a multiphoton system for high-resolution fluorescence imaging of biological samples and microstructures.
“I am honored to have earned this award,” said O’Kane. “This project allowed me to integrate my passion for optical design with biomedical imaging using CODE V. Thank you to Professor Julie Bentley for your guidance throughout the semester!”
Nikolas Romer is a Ph.D. candidate in optics at the University of Rochester. Romer received an award for the project titled, “Fixed Focal Length Telephoto Lens for Sample Capsule Localization during Mars Sample Return.” Romer used CODE V to design a telephoto lens that improves geological sample collection on Mars by identifying sample locations from as far as 260 meters away.
“It’s a great honor to be selected for this award,” said Romer. “This project allowed me to apply the lens design skills I’ve learned in CODE V to one of my passions in space exploration and an exciting future Mars mission. Thanks to Dr. Julie Bentley for her guidance during this project, and to Synopsys for their continued support of optics students!”
Chenghao Feng, Jiaqi Gu, and Hanqing Zhu are Ph.D. candidates in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. The team received an award for their project titled, “A compact 4×4 butterfly-style silicon photonic-electronic neural chip for hardware-efficient deep learning.” They used Synopsys Photonic Solutions software to design a chip that supports an optical neural network for next-generation neurocomputing.
The team provided the following comments:
“We devised a hardware-efficient butterfly-style photonic-electronic neural chip to implement deep learning tasks,” said Feng. “I want to thank Synopsys for providing a convenient and efficient integrated photonic design and layout tool. I look forward to new tools and features that can further improve the productivity of photonic integrated circuit engineers and researchers. I also thank Professors Ray T. Chen and David Z. Pan for supervising and supporting our team.”
“I am glad that our project was appreciated by the judging committee,” said Gu. “I feel honored that our team received an award as part of the Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition.”
“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Zhu. “In the post-Moore era, using Synopsys photonic solutions enabled us to investigate how to use light to accelerate AI workloads. I would like to thank Synopsys for the opportunity to share our work with others, and I am very thankful for all the hard work done by my teammates.”
The annual Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition recognizes excellence in student optical design projects. The competition was established in 2000 by Optical Research Associates (ORA®), now the Synopsys Optical Solutions Group, and in 2009 was named in honor of ORA’s former president and chief executive officer, Robert S. Hilbert. To participate, students in North America can enter an optical design class assignment or thesis work that uses Synopsys optical design software. For more information, visit https://www.synopsys.com/optical-solutions/learn/competition.html.
For more information about university and other educational programs sponsored by Synopsys Optical Solutions, visit https://www.synopsys.com/optical-solutions/learn.html.