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54 PCB007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2019 in because that's when it gets fun! When an activity sparks an interest in a student, they might choose it as a career. Dunn: Through a few internships and your experience with the team, you have been ex- posed to multiple areas of the electronics and engineering space. What do you see as some of the challenges and opportunities for someone about to enter the field? Olson: Without sounding too biased or using a cliché, an obvious answer is in the renewable energy area, and I don't just mean the jobs associated with the things that come to mind when you think of renewables, such as solar panels and wind turbines. I'm referring to any industry or business that may end up support- ing the transition from fossil fuels to renew- ables. I try to stay away from buzz words, but another area I find quite interesting is the IoT space. As you've probably noticed, everything is a smart device these days. An insane number of devices now communicate wirelessly, but I still think there are plenty of opportunities for other businesses to utilize embedded technol- ogy for their specific application. Finally, there are still a ton of opportunities in the area of ro- botics and industrial automation. As technol- ogy continues to develop, certain operations will become possible to automate. Dunn: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me, Ross. I've enjoyed hearing your story and perspective. Olson: Thanks again for asking me these ques- tions. It has been a pleasure! PCB007 Tara Dunn is the president of Omni PCB, a manufacturer's rep firm specializing in the PCB industry. To read past columns or contact Dunn, click here. The researchers made the new waveguides by optimiz- ing laser direct writing, a microfabrication approach that creates detailed 3D structures by polymerizing a light- sensitive chemical with a precisely positioned focused laser. Polymerization converts relatively small molecules called monomers into large, chainlike polymers. The new approach does not require a photoinitiator, which is typically used to efficiently absorb the laser light and convert it into chemical energy that initiates polym- erization. "By not using a photoinitiator, we simplified the fabrication process and also enhanced the compatibility of the final device with living tissue," Pu said. "This en- hanced biocompatibility could allow the approach to be used to make implantable sensors and devices." The new flexible waveguides could also serve as build- ing blocks for photonic PCBs that use high-speed opti- cal signals rather than electrical links to transmit data in computers and other electronic devices. (Source: The Optical Society of America) For the first time, researchers have fabricated optical waveguides just over one micron wide in a clear silicone commonly used for biomedical applications. The tiny, flex- ible waveguides can be used to make light-based devic- es such as biomedical sensors and endoscopes that are smaller and more complex than currently possible. "Our flexible waveguides could be integrated into mi- crofluidic lab-on-a-chip systems to eliminate bulky ex- ternal optics needed to perform blood tests, for example. They might also deliver light for wearable devices such as a shirt featuring a display," said research team member Ye Pu of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. As reported in Optical Materials Express, the new optical waveguides are not only thinner than a piece of dust but al- so exhibit very low light loss when used with certain wave- lengths of light. A light-based signal can travel through the new waveguides for 10 centimeters or more before an un- acceptable degradation of the signal will occur. Tiny Waveguides Could Enable Better Biomedical Devices, Wearable Displays

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