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A $1000 scholarship offered by the IEEE Photonics Society has been awarded to Tao Zhan of CREOL, College of Optics and Photonics.

The merit-based scholarship is awarded annually to ten graduate students worldwide with the aim of recognizing their contributions in the field of optics and photonics.

“This scholarship is a great recognition for the research we have conducted previously,” said Zhan. “It makes me feel motivated to explore more possibilities and advance my research to the next possible level.”

Zhan is a full-time graduate student and research assistant in the CREOL Photonics and Display Group. His research focuses on liquid crystal based planar optics and their applications in virtual and augmented reality.

“My enthusiasm for optics started early on, when I got interested in taking photos using my father’s camera,” said Zhan. “I was always eager to capture and understand the gorgeous optical phenomenon in my photos, such as colorful soap bubbles and skies with gradient colors.”

Zhan’s research in display optics is applied to augmented and virtual reality displays with the goal of improving the user experience.

“Virtual and augmented reality is expected to be the next-generation computing platform after smart phones, but the optics are far from perfect,” said Zhan. “There is a lot of research and development needed for better user experience.”

“I couldn’t have won this scholarship without the strong support and fruitful discussions I’ve had with my advisor and members of my lab,” said Zhan.