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Science AMA Series: I am Lan Yang, an electrical engineering professor at Washington University in St. Louis. My research is in nanophotonics, high-quality optical microresonators, and finding better ways to detect nanoparticles. AMA!
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Hi reddit! Thank you so much for your excellent questions today. I’m sorry I didn’t get to answer all of them, but I will try to come back later today to answer those I missed. I hope it was as enjoyable for you as it was for me. I am Lan Yang, an electrical engineering professor at Washington University in St. Louis. My interests are in transforming the research discoveries in fundamental science to technologies that could benefit the society and improve the quality of life. My research has centered around high-quality optical microresonators, which could significantly enhance light-matter interactions and therefore triggers many interesting physics. The research in my group falls in two categories: one is about fundamental understanding of interesting physics in high-quality optical resonators, and the other is to seek applications enabled by such a structure, such as sensing — particularly, nanoscale sensing — which have a direct impact on broad applications from environmental monitoring to early disease diagnosis and health care. A few years ago, we developed an on-chip sensor that could detect and measure the size of individual nanoparticles. Recently, my group has made some progress in unconventional control of light flow in optical structures by exploiting special features associated with parity-time-symmetry and exceptional points. It’s not surprising that fundamental science doesn’t show a direct connection to applications. But when opportunities come, it’s natural for us to combine these two directions. This time, we are developing a new sensing technology by using a special feature associated with a resonator when it’s operated around exceptional points.