By David Murphy
KAUST Ph.D. student Jorge Holguín-Lerma has recently been named a recipient of the 2020 IEEE Photonics Society Graduate Student Scholarship. Holguín-Lerma was one of only ten students worldwide to receive the Society’s most competitive scholarship for graduate students in photonics. The award acknowledges both his work at KAUST and the potential impact of his future research.
“I feel honored and motivated to continue the tradition of impacting people’s lives through photonics.”
In his role as an active Society member, Holguín-Lerma has spent the past three years speaking with a wide range of people in numerous countries regarding the role photonics plays in shaping our world.
“At these events, the difficult questions come from the youngest minds” he explained. “The audience at these talks ranges from elementary school children in Saudi Arabia to faculty in Mexico. I am glad that the Society recognizes these activities as part of research excellence.”
Pushing the boundaries of semiconductor lasers and optoelectronics
As a member of the KAUST Photonics Laboratory, under the supervision of Professor Boon Ooi, Holguín-Lerma’s research focuses on the study of visible-light emitters such as distributed-feedback lasers and superluminescent diodes. These laser-diode-based devices are made from a semiconductor material called gallium nitride (GaN) and emit light from violet and blue to green.
“From the moment I joined Prof. Boon Ooi’s Lab, I embraced the challenge of understanding and pushing the boundaries of semiconductor lasers and optoelectronics,” he said. “The mission and vision of Prof. Ooi inspired me to always question the known.”
Holguín-Lerma readily acknowledges the influential and fundamental role that KAUST has played in his career so far. “I feel fortunate to be a student here. At KAUST, we lead the way and work with other leaders. Every day, my research inspiration comes from my colleagues, such as Dr. Tien Khee Ng; who I believe is the second pillar of the KAUST Photonics Laboratory.”