Markus Pollnau

Professor Markus Pollnau

Professor in Photonics
+44 (0)1483 682745
17 ATI 01

Academic and research departments

Advanced Technology Institute.



Markus Pollnau is a Professor in Photonics at the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), at the University of Surrey. He received an MSc from the University of Hamburg, Germany, in 1992, and a PhD from the University of Bern, Switzerland, in 1996, both in physics. After postdoctoral positions with the University of Southampton, UK, until 1998 and the University of Bern, Switzerland, until 1999, he worked as a Project and Research Group Leader with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2004, he became a Full Professor and Chair of the Integrated Optical MicroSystems Group, MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. After a short stay at KTH - Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, he joined the University of Surrey and the ATI in 2017. He was a visiting researcher at the University of Manchester, UK, in 1998-2000, on sabbatical leave to Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, in 2009, and a visiting Professor at the University of Jena, Germany, in 2013.

Prof Pollnau has contributed to more than 140 reviewed journal articles, more than 400 international conference and proceedings papers, among them 14 plenary/tutorial/keynote lectures and more than 70 invited papers, more than 10 book chapters, and more than 50 summer school lectures in the fields of thin-film growth, rare-earth-ion spectroscopy in dielectric solids, bulk, fiber, and waveguide lasers, integrated optics, and bio-medical applications. He held a “Human Capital and Mobility” Research Fellowship of the European Union (1996-1998), a “Profil” Research Fellowship of the Swiss National Science Foundation (1999-2004), and a “Vici” Research Fellowship of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (2006-2011), obtained numerous National and European Research Grants, and coordinated the EU STREP project “PI-Oxide” (2005-2008). In 2014, he started the ERC Advanced Grant “Optical Ultra-Sensor” of the European Research Council.

Prof Pollnau has been involved in the organization of major international conferences, e.g., as a Program and General Co-chair of the Conference on Lasers and Electro- Optics (2006/2008) and the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics Europe (2009/2011), inaugurated and steered the Europhoton Conference (2004-2008). He served as Topical Editor for the Journal of the Optical Society of America B and on the editorial board of the journal Laser Physics Letters, and was the chair and member of several prize committees. In 1995, he was awarded the Annual Physics Prize of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for research results obtained during his Ph.D. thesis. He was elected a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2013 and a Fellow of the European Physical Society in 2014.

Research interests

Prof Pollnau is best known for his contributions to rare-earth-ion spectroscopy, rare-earth-doped dielectric waveguide amplifiers and lasers, integrated optical devices for spectroscopic and bio-medical applications. More recently, he also commenced work on spectral coherence in resonators and lasers.

Rare-earth-ion spectroscopy (1991-present):- energy-transfer processes among rare-earth ions- excited-state absorption- absorption, luminescence, and luminescence decay

Rare-earth-doped dielectric waveguide amplifiers and lasers:- ultranarrow-linewidth lasers in amorphous aluminum oxide on silicon (2006-present)- high-gain amplifiers and highly efficient lasers in double-tungstate waveguides (2004-present)- the first-ever continuous-wave solid polymer laser (2008-2010)- Ti:sapphire channel waveguide lasers (2001-2006)- erbium 3-µm fiber laser (1995-2003)

Spectral coherence in resonators and lasers:- theory of Fabry-Pérot resonators (2015-present)- theory of laser linewidth (2014-present)

Integrated optical devices for spectroscopic and bio-medical applications:- on-chip optical coherence tomography and Raman spectroscopy (2009-2013)- fluorescent DNA analysis in an optofluidic chip (2008-2016)

Research collaborations

Over the years, Prof Pollnau has collaborated with numerous European and overseas research labs, as well as companies. Joint journal publications have resulted from collaborations with partners at the following institutions (according to start date from recent to past, partly ongoing).

European scientific collaborations: Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain; French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis, France; Medical University of Vienna, Austria; Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; University of Ghent, Belgium; University of Hull, UK; Université de Rennes, France; ETH Zürich, Switzerland; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; Paul-Scherrer-Institut, Villigen, Switzerland; Institute for Atomic & Molecular Physics, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Max-Born-Institut, Berlin, Germany; Université Claude Bernard Lyon, France; Politecnico di Milano, Italy; Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany; Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic; Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain; University of Southampton, UK; Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany; Universität Hamburg, Germany

Overseas scientific collaborations: McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Arizona State University, Tempe, AR, USA; Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea; National Research Council Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA; Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan; MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA; University of Sydney, Australia; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Industrial collaborations: Acadia Communications, Inc., Maynard, MA, USA; River Diagnostics BV, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; IBM Research, Rüschlikon/Zürich, Switzerland; Zebra Bioscience BV, Enschede, The Netherlands; Lionix BV, Enschede, The Netherlands; Phoenix BV, Enschede, The Netherlands; TEEM Photonics, Meylan, France; Gemfire Corp., Palo Alto, CA, USA; Lightning Optical Corp., Tarpon Springs, FL, USA; Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, CA, USA

My publications