Joseph E. Ford
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Physical optics system design and integration for applications in imaging, communications, and energy.
Professor Ford's strengths are in transparent fiber optic and free-space optical communication networks, dynamic planar and volume holography, physical and geometrical optics, and opto-electronic device packaging. He has been an innovator in the application of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) to the optical telecommunications infrastructure. For six years at Bell Labs, Ford developed parallel communications systems based on arrays of high speed opto-electronic VLSI and micromechanical devices. He led a team that demonstrated the first MEMS-based components for wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) telecommunications, where multiple signals are sent simultaneously through the same fiber by coding the information in different wavelengths. These included the first MEMS variable attenuator, dynamic spectral equalizer, and wavelength add/drop switch. This technology has become part of the fiber-optic "plumbing" of the core optical communications network. In his Photonics Systems Integration Lab (PSI-Lab) at UCSD, Ford's research group is working on using physical optics in many different systems. Recent examples are waveguide-based solar concentrators, free-space optical communications, microsecond circuit switching for fiber communications within data centers, ultra thin "origami" imagers using concentric folded optics, gigapixel and wide angle computational imagers using spherically symmetric optics, and "telescopic" contact lenses.
Joseph Ford joined the UCSD faculty in 2002, after a two-year stint as Chief Scientist at Optical Micro-Machines. From 1994 to 2000, Ford was a principal investigator in the Advanced Photonics Research Department of Bell Labs, where he applied optoelectronics and micromechanics to high-bandwidth computing and communications. In 1992, he earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and applied physics from UCSD, where he remained as a postdoctoral researcher until mid-1993, when he joined 3D optical data storage startup Call/Recall. Ford has co-authored over 100 conference and journal papers, holds 47 U.S. patents, and is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America.