John Bowers, Director of the UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency and a pioneer in the field of integrated photonics, has received a 2017 Central Coast Innovation Award from the Pacific Coast Business Times. The Central Coast Innovation Awards were launched in 2016 “to capture the special aspects of the startup revolution that's sweeping the region, the state and, indeed, the nation.” The awards are given “to recognize the distinctive startup culture that's redefining Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.”
Bowers is credited with leading a team that demonstrated an electrically pumped hybrid silicon laser a decade ago and has followed up with the other photonic elements needed for photonic integrated circuits. That advancement paved the way for commercial production of high-bandwidth silicon photonic devices, which greatly increase efficiency and speed of data transmission. Together with Alex Fang, Bowers started Aurrion in Goleta to develop the photonic integrated circuits needed in data centers. The company was acquired by Juniper Networks in August and continues to expand.
“I’m grateful for the award, and grateful for a group of smart, hard -working students who have pushed the frontiers of photonic integration,” said Bowers. His current research is aimed at integrating electronics and photonics on silicon, simultaneously solving the need for low-cost, high-volume, high-capacity photonic interconnects and for higher-capacity input/output on processors, switches, and memory.
“I am extremely pleased that John Bowers has been recognized with this Innovation Award from the Pacific Coast Business Times, because he epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit the college values so highly,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the College of Engineering. “On the one hand, he pursues innovative research to solve one of the grand challenges of the Digital Age — meeting society’s demand for ever-expanding amounts of data delivered faster and more efficiently. On the other, he applies himself to taking solutions to the marketplace, where they have tremendous benefits.”
The awards were presented at a ceremony held March 16 in conjunction with StartUp Village, which highlighted 31 local startup companies.