2024 Medal Winners | francais

The 2024 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics

is awarded to

Xiaoyi Bao

"Receiving this prestigious CAP Medal is great honour. I am fortunate to be able to follow my passion, exploring the interface of fundamental and applied physics to solve real-world problems benefitting society. This award reflects not just my personal journey but also collaborative efforts of exceptional colleagues, postdocs and students." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2024 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics is awarded to Xiaoyi Bao, University of Ottawa, in recognition of broad and profound contributions to the optical fibre field; from laying the physical principles for new optical measurement techniques, to developing applications with important impact for Canadian infrastructure and telecommunications. announcement

Dr. Bao has made influential contributions to optical fiber-based systems spanning telecom testing protocols and instruments, pioneering distributed sensor instrumentation for infrastructure monitoring, and micro-nano fiber devices including self-locked frequency stabilized random fiber lasers, and nano-sensing probes for medical imaging.

A physicist and optical fiber expert, Dr. Bao discovered that transmission optical cables laid on the seabed captured noise from tidal waves. Collaborating with engineers, she harnessed this phenomenon to develop dynamic stress and temperature monitoring technology. By exploiting the interference of Rayleigh scattering (a continuously distributed reflection pattern varying with temperature, strain and sound), she created a non-destructive testing method, measuring time-dependent Rayleigh scattering pattern changes at each point along an optical fiber attached to a civil/mechanical structure. Utilizing fiber polarization, nonlinear effects, optical phase and delay time, Dr. Bao recorded changes in the Rayleigh and Brillouin patterns, enabling the distributed dynamic monitoring of structures to locate defects in materials and to record seismic activity. Dr. Bao’s sensors save governments millions in infrastructure maintenance, and prevent oils spills as well as highway, bridge, railway and airplane accidents. They contribute to protecting the environment and saving lives globally.

Dr. Bao’s remarkable work on dynamic impairment emulators aided telecom researchers in evaluating communication system impairments, leading to efficient high-speed communication system designs. Dr. Bao’s polarization mode dispersion (PMD) field measurement protocols enabled telephone companies to identify high PMD in installed fiber cables, saving costs and informing the upgrade of telecommunication systems connecting Canada’s east to west coast information highway.

Continuing her innovations of fiber sensor technology into the quantum world, Dr. Bao designed quantum noise limited random fiber lasers to measure the spatial statistics of photon fluctuations. Applying her sensors to study the interaction of photons and acoustic waves in nano-fiber devices opens possibilities for ultrahigh resolution ultrasound transmitters for imaging using quantum sensors. nominator citation

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