Keynote Speaker

Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith Ahmad FASc

Keynote Title:

Application of Chalcogenides for Producing Short Pulses in Rare-Earth Doped Optical Fibers


The generation of short pulses with high-energy outputs is a crucial aspect of a wide variety of applications ranging from material processing and range-finding to telecommunications and medicine. As such, significant efforts have been expanded towards the development of various techniques to generate Q-switched and mode-locked pulses in fiber laser systems. Specifically, significant interest has been garnered in the the use of various non-linear materials, in particular transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), as saturable absorbers. This presentation will discuss the application of TMDs in generating short and ultra-short pulses from fiber laser cavities, as well as extending into the various designs used to induce and optimize pulsed laser outputs. Finally, the presentation will explore the use of these systems in real-world applications.

Speaker's Biography

Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith Ahmad 
FASc obtained his first degree in 
BSc (Physics), with First Class
 Honors from the University of
 Malaya, in 1979. Following that, 
he obtained his MSc and PhD
 from the University of Wales in
1980 and 1983 respectively. In
 the earliest years of his career,
 Professor Datuk Dr Harith began 
to comprehend the importance 
that photonics would have to
 the future well-being of a nation.
 Upon returning to Malaysia he 
recognized two facts: 1) he was 
the first person within Malaysia to
 have achieved training in the field 
of photonics; and 2) a national 
photonics initiative would identify 
critical technical priorities for
 long-term federal R&D funding, yet this crucial development was not currently in place, or even in the making. From these realizations, it later transformed into a personal challenge for the young researcher.
Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith understood his first step must be capacity-building, to initiate interest in photonics, with a key focal point of increasing the number of highly capable personnel nationally in that field. Working together with several scientist colleagues, he was able to highlight the importance of photonics in Malaysia to the government within the 7th Malaysian Plan. Subsequent support from the government enabled Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith’s team to put together a nationwide research network consisting of seven Malaysian universities and SIRIM. The team then succeeded in assembling a significant pool of manpower of approximately 100 scientists and researchers, with an average of 5 academic staff and 10 PhD students within each university, which Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith led and mentored as the chairman of the project. This group has since grown considerably in size.
After gaining government recognition as an expert in developing photonics, Professor Datuk Dr Harith identified the next phase as bringing academia and industry together. For this purpose, he initiated collaborations in 1995 with Telekom Malaysia to foster their understanding of the impact that photonics would play in the future of telecommunications. Subsequently, a number of national-level projects resulted from his initial idea of implementing photonics throughout the country. Among them, include deployment of fiber optics as the backbone of national telecommunications, and more recently the roll-out of the High-Speed Broadband Initiative (HSBB-Uni). Apart from that, he assisted in the development of many SMEs in areas such as fabrication of various optical components and technical consultation on network deployments and device development.
The next leap was the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence (HiCoE) as a one-stop centre for referral, advice, support and testing for photonics and photonics-related research and innovation. In 2014, the Ministry of Education (MOE) granted the status of HiCoE for the Photonics Research Centre of University of Malaya. Under Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith’s guidance and direction, the center has already made significant inroads, with firm collaborations and support programs being established between the center and other research laboratories from younger universities. The Photonics Research Centre’s large number of publications has ensured that most laboratories around the world acknowledge it as a significant player in the global photonics stage.
Besides that, Professor Ulung Datuk Dr Harith has supervised until completion more than 35 PhD students – some of whom consequently are directing research in their respective institutions. He has also published more than 520 articles in ISI-indexed journals and holds 10 patents of product innovation. In recognition to his expansive contribution, he has received many awards from Malaysian and international organizations such as Fellow of Akademi Sains Malaysia in 2006, Malaysia-Toray Science Foundation Award in 2007, Merdeka Award for Scholastic Achievement in 2010, Islamic Development Bank Prize for Science and Technology – Photonics Research Centre in 2014, ASEAN Outstanding Scientist and Technology Award in 2014, and Distinguished Professor Award from MOE in 2014.