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Prof. John Ballato at Politecnico di Torino: Optical Fibers and Beyond

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“You could send me an email when, during your research, you will have doubts if something will work or not. If I reply ‘No, it will not work’, keep going because in my career sometimes I was simply wrong”. Friday, June 30th: the newborn OSA Student Chapter Torino (Italy) is hosting his first Travelling Lecture Grant, Prof. John Ballato. Among other achievements, he is also an OSA Fellow and now he is telling us that sometimes he was wrong. Here’s the specific episode he confessed: it was 2008. There was a project involving the possibility of building optical fibers with silicon core, and he almost refused to work on it because he was very skeptical about it. One day, he was convinced to perform the experiment: on a first attempt, Prof. Ballato and his collaborators discovered that the color of the core become black. It was silicon, as confirmed by electron microscopy. It was the first silicon-core in a silica-clad optical fiber, and the results were immediately published in Optics Express.

Prof. Ballato’s talk continued and it was focused in particular on the processing of optical and optoelectronics fibers through the molten core fabrication method. This technique is particularly interesting for developing the next generation of specialty optical fibers with advanced functionalities. Nevertheless, he gave us very useful advices on research ethics, mentors and career choices. The excellent ability of the speaker and the high interest of the topic stimulated a long and deep discussion, with several questions and contributions from the audience.

The keynote speech held by Prof. Ballato was part of the workshop “Optical Fibers and Beyond”, organized by our Torino OSA Student Chapter. It was followed by two invited talks held by Prof. Daniel Milanese and Prof. Andrea Carena, respectively from the department of Applied Science and Technology and from the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications of Politecnico di Torino. The two talks covered all the topics of optical fibers technology, from the materials’ design and properties, the processing for the production of specialty optical and optoelectronics fibers, and the use of optical fibers in telecommunications, lasers and sensors. This broad topic covered all the expertise of our chapter members and gained the interest of several academics. The coffee break was also an occasion for a more informal discussion about academic life, professional development and research.

The workshop ended with a joint lunch in a local pizza restaurant and a visit to the newborn PhotoNext interdipartimental center, upgrade of the former PhotonLab: a state of the art lab for research in optical telecommunications, optical fibers and optical materials.

The workshop resulted in an exciting and inspiring experience: it allowed discussion of new research ideas, possible new collaborations in a complex and increasingly multidisciplinary environment. Together with all the activities of the Chapter, it was a good occasion for consolidating the network of researchers in optics and photonics in the area of Torino, as well as a profitable exchange of ideas and opinions about the future of optical fibers.

Finally, we would like to thank OSA for financing our grant application and Prof. John Ballato for accepting our invitation. We really hope this will be the first of a long series of events that will help the dissemination of technical knowledge about optics and photonics in our area, as well as increasing the international significance of our young Student Chapter. This lecture will be only the first step towards a more intense activity among the international environment, contributing to the personal growth of each Chapter’s member as highly skilled scientists and researchers. We believe on the impact of this activity on the Torino community on optics and photonics, allowing the establishment of long-lasting networking with other Student Chapters and OSA members.

Day of Photonics 2016

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Dario Pilori, treasurer of the OSA Student Chapter Torino will present the chapter activities at the upcoming Day of Photonics on Oct. 20th at Politecnico di Torino.

The description of the event follows:

Photonics: triggering innovation and impact on society

Politecnico di Torino, Aula 2T, 20th October 2016,

  • ore 16:00 – 18:00
  • Aperitive following at ISMB


  • Roberto Gaudino, Dipartimento di Elettronica e Telecomunicazioni, Politecnico di Torino
  • Daniel Milanese, Dipartimento di Scienza Applicata e Tecnologia, Politecnico di Torino

Why the Day of Photonics

The International Event “Day of Photonics” ( is designed to provide awareness for the multiple applications of Photonics in our society.

The event will take place at Politecnico di Torino and Istituto Superiore “Mario Boella” on 20th October 2016 and is intended for everyone. It will present the state of the art of photonics, with a special focus on our regional landscape (Piemonte e Valle d’Aosta), where several research centres and companies are active in the field. The ambition is to foster collaboration among everyone, contribute to develop new ideas, research projects, opportunities for technology transfer and perspectives for employments of students of Politecnico di Torino.

PHOTONICS is a powerful tool, with numerous applications ranging from the transmission of enormous quantities of high speed data to sensing microscopic vibrations and deformations of structures, from high quality materials processing to early diagnosis of diseases. Impact on society has been tremendous: Internet would not exist without optical and photonic technologies, and every day we use photonic technologies, during work, shopping and other leisure activities.

In parallel the brand new OSA Polito Student Chapter will be presented (Optical Society of America,, with the possibility for students to get to know the activities and join it.

Finally an aperitive will be offered to all attendees at the Photonlab premises.

Event details


20th October 2016 Aula 2T, 16:00 – 18:00, the language of the event will be Italian.


  • Welcome to Politecnico di Torino

    • Greetings from the Institution, Politecnico di Torino

    • Andrea Bianco, Director of Dipartimento Elettronica e Telecomunicazioni, Politecnico di Torino

  • Marco Scaccabarozzi, TIM – “Photonics as an accelerator within the digital innovation”

  • Marco Genovese, INRIM – “State of the art of quantum cryptography”

  • Joao Sousa, DATALOGIC S.p.A. – “Marking, sensing and tracing with photonics at Factory Automation”
  • Roberto Gaudino, Politecnico di Torino – “Photonics at Politecnico di Torino”

  • Dario Pilori, PhD student, “Presentantion of the OSA (Optical Society of America) Student Chapter@polito”

  • Silvio Abrate, ISMB, “The Photonlab initiative between POLITO and ISMB”

  • Roberta Ramponi, executive Board of Photonics 21 and president CO.RI.FI. – “The European roadmap of Photonics”

TOP-LUX initiative at ERN!

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The OSA Student Chapter Torino, on September 30th 2016, started the TOP-LUX initiative in the framework of the European Researcher’s Night 2016. The TOP-LUX (TOrino Photonics – Leveraging YoUth eXcellence) inititative, with which the OSA Student Chapter Torino aims at creating a series of educational events among schools of the Piemonte region, followed by a contest between them for educational projects related to Optics and Science.

The chapter’s initiative was bootstrapped during the last European Researchers’ Night (ERN), during which our chapter members showed experiments related to photonics to adults, university students, schools and kids and their families. The event took place in the beautiful Piazza Castello, one of the most iconic area of the first capital of Italy, Torino. In front of the amazing Palazzo Madama (UNESCO world heritage site since 1997), OSA Student Chapter Torino members interacted with around 1,500 people, showcasing experiments to explain the basics of the “Science of Light” and Photonics.
Chapter members demonstrated how to bend a light ray by using water, replicating the famous John Tyndall’s “light guiding” experiment of 1870. The experiment, performed interactively with the visitors of the booth, was used to explain how optical fibers work, how they are used today to back haul Internet traffic, and how they are produced on a massive scale. Different type of optical fiber technologies were showcased to the visitors, allowing them to directly experience the whole production process, from preforms up to the final coated optical fiber.

In another part of the booth, visitors were asked to make a glass rod “disappear”, by using a proper mixture of water and polymeric oil. The experiment was used to teach to the general public the basic concepts of reflection and refraction of light.

Finally, visitors were able to “draw with light”. By moving colored LEDs in front of a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, people were able to use light as a marker. Thanks to the long exposure times of the camera, the DSLR sensor was able to catch the “light strokes” of the improvised artists so as to create a “light painting”. In this way, visitors travel through again the steps of the one the fathers of cubism, Pablo Picasso. The famous artist was introduced to light painting in 1949 and produced several paintings, the most famous being “Pablo Picasso draws a centaur”. With this historical, yet scientifically aware activity, the visitors of the booth were able to understand the basic principle of modern photography equipment and techniques.

Thanks to all the activities proposed during the ERN, OSA Student chapter Torino was able to get in contact with around 10 schools, that will be visited by the chapters members starting from Fall – Winter 2016 up to Spring 2017, starting to reach out to around 500 kids in the Torino city area. The chapter hopes then to benefit from word of mouth among school teachers and parents to reach out to more schools and organize a contest among them for educational projects related to Optics and Science.

The activities and the experiments performed during the European Researchers Night were extremely successful, therefore we hope that they will be the cornerstone of our future educational events.

Meet Us at the ICT Days 2016

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Now you have a chance to meet the OSA student chapter during the upcoming ICT Days 2016 at Politecnico di Torino. The event will be held in Politecnico di Torino in the afternoon of June 6th, 2016.

We will organize a visit to the PhotonLab in ISMB institute, for the BSc and MSc students of Politecnico di Torino, and after that we will offer a small snack to all the participants. We will also introduce our activities and explain what we do. You can find us in front of ISMB starting from 17.00! See you there!