*National photonics and electro-optics center for Negev*

The goal is to create a center for researchers and students to conduct research using state-of-the-art equipment.

October 11, 2014 23:09
4 minute read.
Electro-optic technology [illustrative]

Electro-optic technology [illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba and the Soreq Nuclear Research Center-NRC have won the tender to create a National Photonics and Electro- Optics Research Center with an overall budget of NIS 175 million.

The tender was offered by the Research and Development of Armaments and Technological Infrastructure Administration (MAFAT) in the Defense Ministry on behalf of theTelem Forum, which includes, in addition to MAFAT, the chief scientist’s office of the Economy and Trade Ministry, the chief scientist’s office of the Science, Technology and Space Ministry, the planning and budgeting committee of the Council for Higher Education and the Finance Ministry’s budgets. The forum’s members decided to pool their resources to offer a generous budget to promote advanced infrastructure for photonics. BGU’s team will be led by Prof. Gabby Sarusi of the electro-optics engineering unit who will partner with Dr. Rafi Lavi, acting head of Soreq in Yavne.

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The goal is to create a center for researchers and students to conduct research using state-of-the-art equipment.

For example, researchers will grow semiconductor epitaxial layers from which advanced electro-optic devices are made, as well as use a device to pull optical fibers. The center will be built next to Soreq NRC with full access for all members and service users.

According to Lavi, cooperation between a national laboratory and academia to create the initiative, in addition to support from industry and government ministries, is a pioneering effort here that has been successfully implemented around the world and is liable to become a much-sought-after model.

When the photonic center is established, it will be the northern branch of BGU in Yavne, where its focus will be on photonic and electro-optic research, said Sarusi. The overall budget will be NIS 175 million over five years to purchase and operate advanced equipment. The advanced equipment and the high-caliber researchers will enable this center to reach the apex of scientific and technological achievement in this field, he added.

The center will be the flagship project of BGU’s efforts to mark 2015 as the International Year of Light as per the designation of UNESCO. From January to June, BGU will host a series of events for the public and for professionals and experts in the field.


How accurately people make decisions can be predicted by measuring the size of their pupils before they are presented with any information about the decision, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational.

The study, conducted by Dr. Peter Murphy and colleagues at Leiden University in the Netherlands, showed that spontaneous, moment-to-moment fluctuations in pupil size predicted how a selection of participants varied in their successful decision making. Larger pupils indicated poorer upcoming task performance due to more variability in the decisions made once the relevant information was presented. The authors also found that certain individuals who had the largest pupils overall also tended to be the least consistent in their decisions.

The results were obtained by measuring pupil size before each segment of the task began and monitoring each participant’s subsequent performance in deciding which direction a cloud of dots was moving in. These results were then combined with a simple mathematical model that described how people make decisions.

These findings reveal that a person’s state of responsiveness, as measured by pupil size, is a key determinant of the variability of the decisions they make about the world around them. When hyper-responsive, decision making appears to be less reliable and will more likely lead to undesirable outcomes. Critically, the findings also open up areas for future research aimed at improving the precision with which one makes decisions, to help us achieve better outcomes from the choices made.

The results were obtained by measuring the pupil size of 26 volunteers as they performed a visual choice-based task designed to mimic the kinds of challenging perceptual decisions that are frequently encountered in everyday life. Pupil size gives a good indication of how responsive a person is at any given moment, with larger pupils correlating with increased responsiveness, though little was previously understood about how pupil size might relate to our ability to make reliable perceptual judgments.

“We are constantly required to make decisions about the world we live in,” said Murphy. Researchers have long known that the accuracy and reliability of such everyday decision making can be tremendously variable for different people at different times, but we understand quite little about where this variability comes from. In this study, we show that how precise and reliable a person is in making a straightforward decision about motion can be predicted by simply measuring their pupil size.

“This finding suggests that the reliability with which an individual will make an upcoming decision is at least partly determined by pupil-linked arousal or alertness and can potentially be deciphered on the fly. This new information could prove valuable for future research aimed at enhancing the precision of decision making in real time.”

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