By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News
Arka Majumdar, an associate professor in UW ECE and in the physics department, was recently named a 2024 Optica Fellow for his significant achievements in optics — the branch of physics that studies the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter. Majumdar received this honor for his pioneering contributions in the field of low-power optical information science and imaging, enabled by low-dimensional materials (which have physical properties similar to that of individual atoms), nanophotonics (the study of the behavior of light on the nanometer scale), and meta-optics. Meta-optics are made up of millions of nanostructures that are smaller than the wavelength of light. As light passes over these nanostructures, they can manipulate a light wave in a manner similar to an optical lens, but at a much smaller scale and with unprecedented resolution.
Optica, formerly known as the Optical Society of America, or OSA, grants the honor of becoming an Optica Fellow to those who have achieved significant scientific accomplishment in the advancement of optics and photonics. The bylaws of this society allow only 10% of its membership to be designated as an Optica Fellow, and the number elected each year is limited to approximately 0.5% of the current membership total. With this honor, Majumdar joins UW ECE professors Kai-Mei Fu, Mo Li, and Lih Lin, who each became Optica Fellows in 2023, 2021 and 2020, respectively.
“Arka is a truly outstanding member of our faculty at UW ECE, and I’m thrilled to see that Optica has recognized the excellence of his work.” — UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins
“My academic career has been shaped in many ways by Optica, and my first international conference was CLEO, which is one of their flagship events,” Majumdar said. “I have found Optica to be very progressive in terms of promoting research, and they play a very important role in shaping the career of young scientists, along with promoting equity. I would like to thank Optica, all my mentors and my research group. I am honored to be recognized for my research contributions as an Optica Fellow.”
Majumdar leads the Nano Optoelectronic Integrated System Engineering (NOISE) lab at the UW. The NOISE lab studies light-matter interaction, which takes place at the intersection between electrical and computer engineering and physics. Majumdar leads and collaborates with interdepartmental and multi-institutional research teams on the development of technologies based on optics, photonics, and quantum mechanics. His work often has broad impact, for example, he and his colleagues recently developed a new kind of chip for quantum technology, reimagined optics for smartphone cameras and other devices, and developed a miniaturized imaging device to treat heart attacks and stroke. He is also a faculty participant in QuantumX at the UW and a member of the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems.
Prior to joining the UW in 2014, Majumdar was a postdoctoral scholar at Intel Labs from 2013 to 2014 and at the University of California, Berkeley from 2012 to 2013. He completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford University in 2009 and 2012, respectively. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 2007, where he was honored with the President’s Gold Medal.
Majumdar is a recipient of multiple Young Investigator Awards: from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in 2015, the National Science Foundation in 2019, the Office of Naval Research in 2020, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2021. He received an Intel Early Career Faculty Award in 2015, an Amazon Catalyst Award in 2016, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2018, a UW College of Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2020, an iCANX Young Scientist Award in 2021, and a DARPA Director’s fellowship in 2023. In October 2023, he was named a Rising Star of Light by the Nature journal Light: Science & Applications and iCANX. He is also a co-founder and technical adviser of Tunoptix, a startup company that is a leader in broadband meta-optics imaging, enabling a new class of thin, lightweight computational vision systems.
“Arka is a truly outstanding member of our faculty at UW ECE, and I’m thrilled to see that Optica has recognized the excellence of his work,” said UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins. “He is still early on in his career, and already he has produced a tremendous amount of research and has several notable achievements to his name. I very much look forward to seeing what he will accomplish in the years to come.”