Featured Engineer

Interview with Dr. Tiziana C. Bond

Dr. Tiziana C. Bond

Dr. Tiziana C. Bond - Engineering Technologies Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

How did you get into electronics/ engineering and when did you start?

I started with grad school after screening different disciplines by looking at the curricula, the future perspectives and especially by talking to older friends, and potentially peers-to-be, about their experiences. Also, a strong driving force was my father, who dissuaded me from pursuing Chemistry studies since he saw (having been a Chemist himself) that Engineering would offer me more opportunities.

What challenges have come from being a woman in this industry?

Not many, at least while in school since as students we were all treated pretty much the same. It was a hard course of study and a challenging career per se. Just lately I started to appreciate the nuances of the different thinking processes that men and women go by, which has pro and cons. Although Engineering could still be considered a male-dominated field, I have always found myself working in a balanced environment of male and female professionals, probably because I am more involved in basic and applied research fields. Fortunately, I can see that the rates of woman interested in Science, Technology and Engineering has been steadily increasing.

What challenges have come from being a foreign national in this country?

It all has been a wonderful adventure. I had not plan to stay longer than a year but opportunities to stay aroused and I am happy I took them. The challenges are many but again the opportunities are many more. Overall this country still offer open frontiers to a lot of foreign nationals that are willing to work and support the economy. You can become what do you want if you are determined, honest, prepared in your field, and open to understand what the society needs. Therefore, not only determination is important but also good language and communication skills. Being able to manipulate new jargons, which is representative of the embedding culture, revealed to be one the most critical skill to have to navigate and be comfortable in a surrounding community (technical or scientific or not ).

Can you tell us how you got into photonics and plasmonics?

Optics for telecommunications, optical fibers and dielectric waveguides and their modeling/analysis was the focus of a theoretical group in my university that I joined for my undergrad and graduate work. The interest expanded to nonlinear optics and Si-based photonics during my postdocs. Eventually, after exploring photonics for optical logic when I started at LLNL, I then moved into sensing and spectroscopy. Going into plasmonics has been a natural evolution since it has become the new paradigm of photonics beyond the optical diffraction limit, overcoming the constraints of dimensions allowing the miniaturization of sensors and real 3D nanostructures.

What are your favorite hardware tools that you use?

I think that overall the most appealing to me are Tunable Laser, such as Semiconductor Vertical and Edge Emitting Laser (VCSELs and EELs ) and Optical Spectrum Analyzers that respectively generate several spectral lines required on demand (and on a very small and compact format as for VCSELs and EELs) and measure the spectral signature of an input beam before and after perturbations (typically in the visible) But at this stage, I should say that my team is actually playing efficiently with these and other cool tools.

What are your favorite software tools that you use?

SO far, RSoft Inc package and COMSOL

What is the hardest/trickiest bug you have ever fixed?

When I was stalling with a FEM model and was able to accelerate its computational speed by applying the gradient conjugate method.

What is on your bookshelf?

Principle of optics” by M. Born and E. Wolf, Diode Lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits, L.A.Coldren and S.W Corzine, Handbook of optical constants solid by E.D. Palik.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve?

Taking the stepwise approach because it doesn’t matter what the experiment is about: if it is designing, fabricating or characterizing your devices, systems or tools that it entails. Defining the objectives and the required experiments, outlining a schedule with a timeline for the various deliverables, with a backup plan included, following it and revising it are the basic good tricks.

What has been your favorite project?

Working with a cross-disciplinary team, across the national labs and academic institutions, on developing batch nano-fabrication techniques for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy and provide an understanding for fundamental physical and chemical phenomena underlying its performances

Do you have any note-worthy engineering experiences?

My experiences across various and diversified projects have brought me to some main general observations with some pointers that I have been trying to follow such as: being persistent in the projects and related experiments (software or hardware) to achieve goals and deliver results; staying motivated but also just breaking away and returning to the workbench with a fresher mind, which also relates to carefully appreciating when is time to stop when rushing to get results, often the case when working late hours if against a deadline. Even with special tricks it is easy to blow off circuits and devices.

What are new projects being worked on at LLNL?

We are currently working on plasmonic for subwavelength lasing and ultra-localized sensing; photovoltaics and energy harvesting with polymers and organics; MEMS tunable for in-situ absorption spectroscopy; surface enhanced substrates for SERS

Can you tell us about your patents?

They are pretty much focused around sources for TDLAS, plasmonic and photonics nano-devices for sensing and spectroscopy, concepts about reducing losses in waveguide to the current optics fiber limit as well as universal logic gates for Boolean complete logic that can be implemented on FPGAs.

What direction do you see your business heading in the next few years?

I think we are going to stay focused in plasmonics and photonics since they bring to the table so many advantages in the new area of energy harvesting, photovoltaics, and high density storage, lasers, and so forth.

What challenges do you foresee in our industry?

Making sure that cost-effective manufacturing approaches are developed to be competitive and really make the new science affordable.

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