Skoltech researchers honored with Vyzov national award

On December 19, the Vyzov first national award in the future technologies announced its winners. Professor Pavlos Lagoudakis, the vice president for photonics and the head of the Laboratory of Hybrid Photonics, and Assistant Professor Sergey Alyatkin from the Photonics Center, the deputy head of the laboratory, received an award for their breakthrough research results — polariton-based computing devices and an optical transistor.

The Vyzov national award in the future technologies was held for the first time. It’s dedicated to the Decade of Science and Technology inaugurated a year ago. The mission of the award is to engage young generations in science and technology in Russia. The award was organized by the Vyzov Fund for developing academic and cultural ties in cooperation with Gazprombank and Moscow’s Government. When selecting the winners, the scientific committee chaired by Professor Artem R. Oganov, the head of the Material Discovery Laboratory. The winners in each nomination will receive 10 million rubles.

“I am honored to stand in front of you tonight, and grateful to the Vyzov Foundation and their scientific committee for bestowing me with the inaugural Vyzov Award. I am happy to be sharing this prize with Sergey Alyatkin, who is one of the first young scientists that joined my labs at Skoltech. Furthermore, I would like to extend my gratitude to all the students and researchers that joined my labs over the years. Our research endeavors in the science and applications of quantum fluids of light, would not have been possible without the strong and consistent support offered by the leadership of Skoltech and I am personally moved by the trust they put in me in leading the scientific research program that has culminated to our discoveries,” said Pavlos Lagoudakis in his acceptance speech.

Pavlos Lagoudakis is one of the pioneers of polariton physics. Coming from Greece, Pavlos earned his PhD in physics at the University of Southampton, England, in 2003. In 2016, Lagoudakis received an invitation to join Skoltech, where he heads the Laboratory of Hybrid Photonics and shares his expertise as a vice president for photonics — one of the most promising research areas. The laboratory investigates the interaction of light with nanostructures.

Sergey Alyatkin obtained his PhD from the Institute for Spectroscopy RAS, where he focused on the investigation of the upconversion mechanism in nanoparticles and its applications for advanced nanocomplexes. At Skoltech, Alyatkin is working on exciton-polariton condensate lattices in inorganic microcavities.

In 2019, the team of researchers designed the first optical transistor that does not require refrigeration and can be a thousand times more efficient than its electronic alternatives. This year, the team patented a way to switch a peculiar macroscopic state of light known as polariton Bose-Einstein condensate at room temperature using nothing but a single photon. Being able to efficiently manipulate the state of light is essential for using it in optical computers, in which light would be used to replace electrical current. Since light travels faster than electrons and generates less heat, this would mean much faster computations and unparalleled energy-efficiency, with no energy lost to heating and no cooling system required.

In his acceptance speech, Lagoudakis expressed his gratitude to colleagues and said that working in Russia brings him great pleasure: “In Russia, professionally, I interacted with rigorously educated students and brilliant scientists. It is the scientific human capital of Russia that I find unparalleled, and for this kudos to Russian education. Personally, I experienced welcoming people that resonated deeply to my cultural identity, a place where I found belonging.”