Dr. Jason PNG Ching Eng|
Electronics & Photonics (EP)
Without a doubt, any traveller who has been to London would claim that it is an eye-opening experience. Whether it is taking a ride on the London Eye, enjoying a West End musical or just taking a stroll in Hyde Park, London is definitely one of the most popular tourist spots in the world. For Dr Jason Png though, his trip to London was more than an eye-opening experience; it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “(I would say that my biggest achievement so far would be to) successfully designed and modelled the first gigahertz (1 billion bits per second) silicon optical modulator in 2002 (the previous record was 20 million bits per second). This operating speed was verified experimentally and reported in Nature in 2004 by scientist from Intel Corp. Furthermore, the operating power of the simulated modulator was reduced by 370%. This work was subsequently awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize at the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London.”
For the short span of time since joining IHPC on Valentine’s Day in 2005, Dr Png is appreciative of the opportunities that he had been presented with. “I relish the freedom to engage in my research area of interest. In fact, I was allowed to start a group in Silicon Photonics, an area which I specialise in. Having access to state-of-the-art computing resources here also helped.”
As a research engineer in the Electronic Systems team of the Engineering Software and Applications programme here at IHPC, Dr Png’s work on Silicon Photonics is a testament to its growing importance. However, having to explain his work to the laymen is often an uphill task.
Imagine building photonic devices on a silicon platform, the same platform that is used to fabricate the billions of Integrated Circuits that can be found in every PC, mobile phone and digital camera, to name a few examples. Silicon photonics is the use of silicon-based materials for the generation, guidance, control and detection of light to communicate information. Thus, building optical devices on a silicon platform is considered a major thrust for the next generation of optoelectronic integrated circuits.
Making his decision to become a researcher was not a walk in the park initally. “I started pondering a career in research during my undergraduate days. I decided to work in the commercial sector in a similar field first to be really sure I"m interested (in the research field) as training to be a researcher is a non-trivial process.” Indeed, Dr Png’s personal philosophy towards being a good researcher is stemmed in the lessons of history. “To be a good researcher, I share the view of Napoleon Bonaparte. One needs perseverance, patience, and perspiration. This should be adopted in research as well.”
Amidst the amount of time and effort that he invests in his work, Dr Png still finds time to volunteer in hospital work, engage in occasional sport and lecture as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in National University of Singapore. “I swim and I’m also trying my hands (or feet) at Salsa. Music is also something that relieves me of daily pressures so I manage to pick up the guitar all by myself. Besides that, just chilling out and spending quality time with my family and friends is my main recharge… I hope, in the near future, I could also pick up sailing and then I can just get myself on a nice yacht and head to Bora Bora!”