LIGHT2015 Awards

The LIGHT2015 project organized two awards to honour young photonics experts for their contributions to the field.

Na Liu (left), Nathalie Vermeulen (center) and Garrett Cole (right).
Na Liu (left), Nathalie Vermeulen (center) and Garrett Cole (right).

LIGHT2015 Young Women in Photonics Award: Fundamental Category

On the Fundamental category, the prize is awarded to Dr. Na Liu for “her seminal contribution to nanophotonics and nanoplasmonics. She established 3D stacking of plasmonic structures, enabling the manufacturing of complex plasmonic functional devices. Using this method, she realized the first 3D stereometamaterials, the first 3D analog of EIT in plasmonics, exhibiting well-modulated Fano resonances, the first single plasmonic antenna-enhanced gas sensor, the first near-IR plasmonic perfect absorber, the first plasmonic glucose sensor based on Fano resonances, the first plasmonic 3D ruler, the first 3D chiral plasmonic structure, the first 3D reconfigurable plasmonic system based on DNA assembly, and the first DNA-based plasmonic gas sensor. Her work has transformed plasmonics from a fundamental field in science into the applications realm.“

Na Liu (age 36) completed her doctorate at the University of Stuttgart. She worked as a postdoc at the University of California at Berkeley and later as a visiting professor at Rice University. She is a group leader at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and also a full professor at University of Heidelberg.

LIGHT2015 Young Women in Photonics Award: Applied/Engineering category

On the Applied/Engineering category, Dr. Nathalie Vermeulen has been awarded for “introducing a disruptive model for the nonlinear process of Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering and employed it to conceptualize a novel cooling technique for Raman lasers. She also came up with a groundbreaking phase matching approach for on-chip nonlinear wavelength converters, enabling device manufacturing in photonic foundries with standard fabrication rules. Today Dr. Vermeulen impacts mid-infrared solid-state laser development, and targets next‐generation nonlinear photonic devices based on graphene.”

Nathalie Vermeulen (age 33) is professor in the Brussels Photonics Team at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. Her research is focused on generating light with multiple wavelengths in optical chips. In 2013 she obtained a prestigious European ERC Starting Grant, and she also became coordinator of a European FET project.

LIGHT2015 Young Entrepreneur in Photonics Award

Dr. Garret D. Cole, the Young Entrepreneur in Photonics laureate, won for “the development of a game-changing low-noise optical coating process that enables the integration of single-crystal semiconductor films onto arbitrary optical substrates, and for successful entrepreneurship through subsequently founding the high-tech start-up company Crystalline Mirror Solutions GmbH. High-reflectivity mirrors fabricated with his technique yield an order of magnitude reduction in thermal coating noise compared to state-of-the-art optical coatings. His technology solves a decade old roadblock in laser-based precision measurement and instrumentation.”

Garrett Cole (age 36), Co-Founder of Crystalline Mirror Solutions (CMS), obtained his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UC Santa Barbara in 2005. Leveraging his wide-ranging expertise in micromechanically-tunable surface-emitting lasers, cavity optomechanical systems, and advanced microfabrication techniques, Dr. Cole co-founded CMS along with Prof. Markus Aspelmeyer in February 2012.

The LIGHT2015 awards consist of a diploma and an honorarium of €2500.

In addition, special recognition to young women in Photonics went to Francesca Calegari (National Research Council of Italy – Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies (CNR – IFN) and Camille-Sophie Bres (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)) for their contributions to Photonics.


The Awards were presented in Munich during the LASER World of PHOTONICS Congress held on 21-25 June 2015.

The commitment of European Optical Society is to continue these prizes beyond 2015 and make them a legacy of the LIGHT2015 project. The next edition of LIGHT2015 Awards will be presented during the next European Optical Society Annual Meeting (EOSAM) in Berlin in 2016.