Pioneering NZ physicist wins James Cook Fellowship

25 October 2017
Associate Professor Stéphane Coen, Department of Physics
Associate Professor Stéphane Coen

Associate Professor Stéphane Coen from the Department of Physics and optical physics group has been awarded the James Cook Fellowship from the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Associate Professor Coen, whose work has had significant impact on the study of nonlinear optics and who is regarded as internationally influential in his field, will use the Fellowship to develop new flexible ways to generate optical frequency combs.

The combs allow light from lasers to be split into thousands of ultra-stable laser beams with different wavelengths and have many potential applications, including in the telecommunications industry.

Professor Richard Easther, Head of the Department of Physics, says this is a well-deserved award for Associate Professor Coen. 

“It recognises his contributions to understanding the interactions between light and matter in optical systems, and the potential for future breakthroughs from optical frequency combs; an emerging technology with huge promise in both fundamental and applied physics.”

Professor John Hosking, Dean of Science, agrees. “The James Cook Fellowship is further recognition of Associate Professor Coen’s outstanding achievements in optical physics.

“It follows hard on the heels of being awarded the 2016 Hector Medal and his election as a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2015.”

Associate Professor Coen gained his PhD in optics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels (Belgium) and completed post-doctoral work at the University of Auckland, in both cases supported by fellowships from the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS). His work on temporal cavity solitons has been supported by a Marsden grant awarded in 2011 by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Last year Associate Professor Coen was awarded the Hector Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi for outstanding contributions to the understanding, generation and manipulation of temporal cavity solitons, pulses of light which are central to fundamental questions in laser science.

He has published more than 60 research papers and book chapters.

The Fellowship provides funding over two years.