Tiny Lasers Acting Together as One: Topological Vertical Cavity Laser Arrays

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Tiny Lasers Acting Together as One: Topological Vertical Cavity Laser Arrays

International research team uses topological platform to demonstrate coherent array of vertical lasers

HAIFA, ISRAEL, AND WÜRZBURG, GERMANY, September 26, 2021 – Israeli and German researchers have developed a way to force an array of vertical cavity lasers to act together as a single laser – a highly effective laser network the size of a grain of sand. The findings are presented in a new joint research paper that was published online by Science on Friday, September 24.

Cell phones, car sensors, or data transmission in fiber optic networks all use so called Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) – semiconductor lasers that are firmly anchored in our everyday technology. Though widely used, the VCSEL device has miniscule size of only a few microns, which sets a stringent limit on the output power it can generate. For years, scientists have sought to enhance the power emitted by such devices through combining many tiny VCSELs and forcing them to act as a single coherent laser, but with limited success. The current breakthrough uses a different scheme: it employs a unique geometrical arrangement of VCSELs on the chip that forces the flight to flow in a specific path – a photonic topological insulator platform.

From topological insulators to topological lasers
Topological insulators are revolutionary quantum materials that insulate on the inside but conduct electricity on their surface, without loss. Several years ago, the Technion group led by Distinguished Professor Mordechai (Moti) Segev introduced these innovative ideas into photonics, and demonstrated the first Photonic Topological Insulator, where light travels around the edges of a two-dimensional array of waveguides without being affected by defects or disorder. This opened a new field, now known as “Topological Photonics,” where hundreds of groups currently have active research. In 2018, the Technion group also found a way to use the properties of photonic topological insulators to force many micro-ring lasers to lock together and act as a single laser. But that system still had a major bottleneck: the light was circulating in the photonic chip confined to the same plane used for extracting the light. That meant that the whole system was again subject to a power limit, imposed by the device used to get the light out, similar to having a single socket for a whole power plant. The current breakthrough uses a different scheme: the lasers are forced to lock within the planar chip, but the light is now emitted through the surface of the chip from each tiny laser and can be easily collected.

Circumstances and participants
This German-Israeli research project originated primarily during the Corona pandemic. Without the enormous commitment of the researchers involved, this scientific milestone would not have been possible. The research was conducted by PhD student Alex Dikopoltsev from the team of Distinguished Professor Mordechai (Moti) Segev of Technion’s Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering Faculties, the Solid State Institute and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and Ph.D. student Tristan H. Harder from the team of Professor Sebastian Klembt and Professor Sven Höfling at the Chair of Applied Physics at the University of Würzburg, and the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat – Complexity and Topology in Quantum Materials, in collaboration with researchers from Jena and Oldenburg. The device fabrication took advantage of the excellent clean room facilities at the University of Würzburg.

A single coherent light beam (pink) is emitted by an array of 30 individual lasers. Credit: SimplySci Animations

The long road to new topological lasers
“It is fascinating to see how science evolves,” said Distinguished Prof. Moti Segev, the Dr. Robert J. Shillman Distinguished Professor of Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Technion. “We went from fundamental physics concepts to foundational changes therein, and now to real technology that is now being pursued by companies. Back in 2015, when we started to work on topological insulator lasers, nobody believed it was possible, because the topological concepts known at that time were limited to systems that do not, in fact, cannot, have gain. But all lasers require gain. So topological insulator lasers stood against everything known at that time. We were like a bunch of lunatics searching for something that was considered impossible. And now we have made a large step towards real technology that has many applications.”

The Israeli and German team utilized the concepts of topological photonics with VCSELs that emit the light vertically, while the topological process responsible for the mutual coherence and locking of the VCSELs occurs in the plane of the chip. The end result is a powerful but very compact and efficient laser, not limited by a number of VCSEL emitters, and undisturbed by defects or altering temperatures.

“The topological principle of this laser can generally work for all wavelengths and thus a range of materials,” explains German project leader Prof. Sebastian Klembt of the University of Würzburg, who is working on light-matter interaction and topological photonics within the ct.qmat cluster of excellence. “Exactly how many microlasers need to be arranged and connected would always depend entirely on the application. We can expand the size of the laser network to a very large size, and in principle it will remain coherent also for large numbers. It is great to see that topology, originally a branch of mathematics, has emerged as a revolutionary new toolbox for controlling, steering and improving laser properties.”

The groundbreaking research has demonstrated that it is in fact theoretically and experimentally possible to combine VCSELs to achieve a more robust and highly efficient laser. As such, the results of the study pave the way towards applications of numerous future technologies such as medical devices, communications, and a variety of real-world applications.

Click here for the paper in Science

Technion Ranked #1 Europe in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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Technion Ranked #1 Europe in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Over the years, the Technion has established itself as a leading academic institution in AI. It is currently ranked 15th in the world, with 100 faculty members engaged in areas across the AI spectrum.


Join us to support Advancements in AI at the Technion!



Digital Brochure – AI – 22 July 2021_SMALL


The Technion’s efforts to advance the field of artificial intelligence have positioned it among the world’s leaders in AI research and development. CSRankings, the leading metrics-based ranking of top computer science institutions around the world, has ranked the Technion #1 in the field of artificial intelligence in Europe (and of course, in Israel), and 15th worldwide. In the subfield of machine learning, the Technion is ranked 11th worldwide. The data used to compile the rankings is from 2016 to 2021.

One of the innovations that is part of the framework of the Technion’s AI prowess is the Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems (MLIS) research center, which aggregates all AI-related activities.

Professor Shie Mannor

Today, 46 Technion researchers are engaged in core AI research areas, and more than 100 researchers are in AI-related fields: health and medicine, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, industrial robotics, cybersecurity, natural language processing, FinTech, human-machine interaction, and others. Two leading AI researchers co-direct MLIS: Professor Shie Mannor of the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor Assaf Schuster of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science.

According to Prof. Mannor, “for years the Technion has maintained its position as the leading research institute in Israel and Europe in core AI areas. The Technion has a unique ecosystem that includes tens of researchers from various faculties, research centers, and a number of undergraduate and graduate programs in the field.”

Professor Assaf Schuster

“All fields of science, technology, and engineering at the Technion have been upgraded in recent years, applying Technion knowledge in AI fields,” said Prof. Schuster, “Most include components based on information processing and machine learning. Furthermore, the Technion views the dissemination of its acquired knowledge as a mission of national importance for commercial sector. In that regard, the Technion operates in close cooperation with the technology sector in Northern Israel and within its partnership with the prestigious EuroTech Universities Alliance. These partnerships in Israel and worldwide link AI research at the Technion to the vanguard of activity in this field.”

The MLIS center strives toward four main goals: (1) establishing the Technion as a top-5 university in the field of AI worldwide; (2) pooling resources, recruiting researchers, and students from all Technion departments to advance and conduct joint research in the field; (3) connecting Technion researchers with relevant parties in the industry, especially technology companies and other organizations that generate Big Data; (4) Establishing close research collaboration with other prominent research institutes in the AI field in Israel and worldwide.

In May 2021, the Technion entered a long-term collaboration with American software giant PTC, under which the company will transfer its Haifa research campus to the Technion, to advance joint research in AI and manufacturing technology. PTC joins several other organizations that collaborate with the Technion in these fields, among them the technological universities of Lausanne (Switzerland), Eindhoven (Netherlands), Munich (Germany), and the Paris Polytechnique (France) in Europe, as well as Cornell Tech, home of the Jacobs Technion-Corrnell Institute, Waterloo University, and Carnegie Mellon University, which operates the largest center for AI and robotics in the United States.


Technion and Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, one of Latin America’s largest hospitals, sign MOU to support student exchange, collaborative research, and clinical trials

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Technion and Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, one of Latin America’s largest hospitals, sign MOU to support student exchange, collaborative research, and clinical trials

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil, establishing a three-year collaboration between the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and the Brazilian hospital, one of Latin America’s largest. The MOU will support student exchange, clinical trials, and collaborative research projects between the two institutions.

(L-R) Shaul Shashua, a member of the Friends of the Technion in Brazil, Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan and Technion Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Prof. Alon Wolf

The ceremony took place via video conferencing on May 6, and the MOU was signed by Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan and President of the Albert Einstein Hospital, Dr. Sidney Klajner.

(L-R) Shaul Shashua, Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan and Prof. Alon Wolf

Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein specializes in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, surgery, and neurology. The hospital, which was founded by the Jewish community of Brazil 66 years ago, was named as the best hospital in Brazil in 2020 by Newsweek. As part of the collaboration, students studying at the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine will go to the hospital each year for clinical rounds – which most students typically do in hospitals in Israel; similarly, students studying at the hospital in Brazil will be able to do the clinical rotation in the affiliated hospitals of the Technion Faculty of Medicine. In some cases, graduate students studying at the Albert Einstein Hospital will be allowed to spend an extended period at the Technion Faculty of Medicine and its affiliated hospitals.

The connection between the Technion and the hospital was made through Shaul Shashua, a member of the Friends of the Technion in Brazil. The ceremony was also attended by Technion Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Prof. Alon Wolf; President of the Friends of the Technion Society in Brazil Salomao Luspa; Prof. Dr. Luiz Vicente Rizzo, VP of R&D at the Albert Einstein Hospital; and Prof. Alexandre Holthausen Campos. From the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion attended: The Dean, Prof. Elon Eisenberg; Prof. Yaron Har-Shai, Vice Dean for Strategic Development; Prof. Simone Engelender, senior researcher; and others.

“The Technion and Albert Einstein are two institutions focused on the betterment of people’s lives, no matter where they live, no matter which language they speak, and no matter what their beliefs are,” Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan said at the signing ceremony. “The essence of our collaboration agreement is bettering the lives of people by promoting and disseminating knowledge.”

President of the Albert Einstein Hospital, Dr. Sidney Klajner: “Our hospital symbolizes the value of saving lives, which is so important in Jewish tradition. Albert Einstein was founded on four Jewish precepts: mitzva, refua, chinuch and tzedakah (good deeds, healing, education, charity). It is very exciting to be here at this moment of signing an agreement between two institutions that share a common aspiration to improve human life in Brazil and Israel.”

Dean of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Elon Eisenberg: “The hospital fully understands the importance of inter-institutional cooperation in promoting science and education in medicine. I look to the future with hope and am confident that this is the beginning of an important scientific and educational relationship.”

Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein representatives after signing the agreement

Prof. Yaron Har-Shai, Deputy Dean of Strategic Development at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine: “In science, it is impossible to move forward without cooperation, including international cooperation. Therefore, we established an international center in the faculty a few years ago that deals with the faculty’s global relations. Over time, thanks to the support of the deans and the hard work of Matan Raz and Stephanie Schneor, we have partnered with more than 10 leading university hospitals in the U.S., Germany and Australia, mainly for student exchange.  I have no doubt that the exposure of our students to hospitals abroad gives them not only a great deal of knowledge but also a richer view of health systems overseas and makes them better doctors. In addition, the professional relationships that are forged with the medical staff abroad will accompany them during their medical careers.”

Prof. Simone Englander, a faculty member originally from Brazil, played an important role in creating the collaboration with the hospital. “Shortly before the outbreak of coronavirus, a large team of doctors from the hospital in Brazil came here and introduced us to each other… paving the way for future scientific research and collaboration,” she said.

Helping Those Who Guard Israel

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Honi Sacks, Richard Sacks, Karen Sacks, Barry Sacks
Photo: Liora Kogan

Brothers Richard (Rick) and Barry Sacks and their families are long-time Technion supporters. They recently chose to help fund Technion’s Program to Support Students in the IDF, a unique program that provides specialized support to students whose education is interrupted by Miluim (reserve duty) service. Due to the intensive nature of a Technion education, and the many Technion students who serve in specialized military roles, the program ensures that the State of Israel remains protected and that students don’t lose precious academic progress while serving their country.

“While we don’t live in Israel, we want to support the State and her citizens in meaningful and impactful ways,” explain Rick and Barry. “As Israel’s oldest university, Technion has always been tied to the survival of the State, with alumni creating systems like the Iron Dome, and the development of research and technology that improves lives and is shared with the rest of the world.”

Rick and Barry are the children of Holocaust survivors, Fela and Joe z”l Sacks, which motivates their deep commitment to ensure that the State of Israel remains a safe and flourishing nation. “If Israel had existed during the War, it could have saved people,” says Rick. “Israel needs to remain strong and Technion is a big part of that defence. When we think of Technion students on the front lines, these young kids defending the State, we are inspired to support them.”

Growing up in Canada, raising families, and achieving professional success, Rick and Barry recognize their good fortune and believe that giving back is a privilege and a responsibility. They also stress the importance of setting an example for their children and grandchildren. Rick and his wife Honi have 7 grandchildren, while Barry and his wife Karen have 5.

“We had a modest upbringing,” Barry explains. “But we always understood tzedakah both as a mitzvah (obligation), and an act of kindness. Giving charity is not a burden, it’s an opportunity to take action, help others, and contribute to Tikkun Olam.”

“If I were to advise others,” says Rick, “I would say to find something you are passionate about and support it. You won’t be sorry.”

Apter Society Continues Legacy of Support

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Members of the Apter Society establish a scholarship at the Technion, 1974 – photo courtesy of Susan Born

The Apter Society Continues Legacy of Support for Technion

The connection between the Apter Friendly Society of Toronto and the Technion goes back nearly 50 years, when the ‘The Apter Jewish Kehila Memorial Scholarship Fund’ was established at the Technion with an initial donation of $5000 in 1974.

Inspired by the Technion engineers who were building the State of Israel, the scholarship was a way for the Society to support the Jewish community, both locally and in Israel.

The Apter ‘Friendly’ Society was originally established in 1905 by a group of people who immigrated to Toronto from the town of Opatow, Poland.  Apt (Opatow) was a small shtetl near Kieltz where 6,000 Jews lived before the war.  After 1945, with the arrival of Holocaust survivors who were born in Opatow, the society evolved into a ‘landsmanshaft’ (mutual benefit) society.   Bound by a common history of life in the ‘shtetl’ and living through and surviving the atrocities of the war,  the Society supported and united the survivors  and helped to preserve the memory of their past into the future.  

Today, there are 10 remaining living members of the original group of approximately 180 members.  The Society is comprised of children and grandchildren of this original group of survivors.   The executive committee of the Apter Society continues to be inspired by the creativity and achievements of the Technion that benefit and advance science and engineering throughout the world.  “We are honoured to continue the path of our founders in further supporting Technion in Israel,” says Susan Born, daughter of past Apter Society member Sam Salcman z” l.

The living descendants, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of the survivor members of the Apter Society are now integrated into the general Canadian cultural mosaic but continue to honour the experiences and memories of the founders.  An annual memorial service held at the Apter Cemetery site memorializes the 6000 Jews from Opatow who were exterminated by the Nazis.  Apters worldwide are invited to connect through the Apter website and Instagram group.

Technion Waterloo Research Alliance

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Technion Waterloo Research Alliance

University of Waterloo President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, with Technion’s Immediate Past President, Peretz Lavie

When University of Waterloo President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, first met with Peretz Lavie, Technion’s immediate Past President, he quickly knew there was potential for a very special relationship between the two universities.  Both are world class institutions known for academic and research excellence, innovation, and nation-building entrepreneurship. But what really inspired President Hamdullahpur was the opportunity to build a partnership based on Israel and Canada’s shared democratic values and a common devotion to solve the challenges of the 21st century. 

The Technion Waterloo Research Alliance formally began in June 2011, with a focus on 3 areas of national and global importance: Quantum Computing, Water, and Nano-sciences.  An initial round of seed funding was bolstered by a generous gift from Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman which enabled the alliance to expand in both scope and capacity.  Since then, collaborative research teams have produced numerous joint publications, created new intellectual property and start-up initiatives, and partnered with industry, resulting in funding that has more than tripled beyond the initial investment.

Renewed funding from the Schwartz Reisman Foundation continues to support the alliance, and the partnership is attracting new philanthropic visionaries who recognize the incredible potential of this unique collaboration. Further research efforts have focused on Quantum Security, and partnership agreements are currently in progress to support research in AI & Medicine, Photonics, and Smart Cities.

Clearly President Hamdullahpur’s intuition was correct; nearly a decade since that fateful meeting with Peretz Lavie, the Technion Waterloo partnership continues to grow, yielding fruitful joint ventures and scientific advancements that further the global good.

University of Waterloo researchers visit the Technion in 2018

Killing COVID with Ultraviolet Light

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Prof. Ido Kaminer

A team of international scientists, including Prof. Ido Kaminer of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, studied various methods to prevent coronavirus contagion in indoor spaces. Based on their findings, recently published in ACS Nano, they advocate the use of ultraviolet light as a “particularly efficient, easily deployable, and economically affordable” way to inactivate the virus.


3D Engineered Heart Tissue

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Doctoral candidate Idit Goldfracht

Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the Rambam Healthcare Campus (Rambam Medical Center), and colleagues at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute at the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada have succeeded in producing 3D engineered cardiac tissues from embedded chamber-specific heart cells (atrial and ventricular cells) derived from human stem cells.  

The tissues, which simulate heart tissues of the atrium (auricle, or the upper chamber of the heart through which blood enters the ventricles) or the ventricles, will serve in the near future for personalizing medications for cardiac patients and developing new drugs to treat them. In the more distant future, the technology is expected to be utilized in the production of implants for damaged areas in the auricles and ventricles.


Canada embracing Israeli Medical Technology

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ReWalk Robotics

The Canadian health care system is embracing Israeli medical technology, with numerous Technion innovations promising to improve the lives of Canadians.

Some of the incredible Technion innovations being used or coming to Canada include: ReWalk, an exoskeleton device enabling individuals with lower limb disabilities to walk; Professor Hossam Haick’s Nanoscale Artificial Nose (NA-NOSE) technology –  a non-invasive diagnostic tool to identify cancer and other diseases;  and Professor Alon Wolf’s surgical snake robot, among others.

Discover how international collaborations are bringing these inventions, and other Israeli tech innovation to the fore-front of Canadian healthcare.


Haifa to become Hi-Tech Hub

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Haifa, Israel

Israel Innovation Authority and the ILAB Group, which includes the Technion-alumnus founded communications giant Mellanox, plan to invest $14.4 million to promote entrepreneurship in Haifa. The group also contains venture capital fund Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), and nonprofit organizations Mati Haifa and Israel Initiative 2020.

The initiative aims to support 150 startups in digital health, energy, environment, and smart mobility — all of which are areas of strength at the Technion.

“Haifa is not only the capital of the North but also the first city from which Israeli hi-tech emerged. We will bring Haifa to the forefront of the global hi-tech scene and position the city as one of Israel’s innovation capitals,” said JVP founder and chairman Dr. Erel Margalit.