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Dawn Tan

Associate Professor

Website: https://photonics.sutd.edu.sg
Telephone: +65 6499 4607
Research Areas:
Nano-Photonics, Nonlinear Optics, Optical Signals Processing, Silicon Photonics

Pillar / Cluster: Engineering Product Development


Dawn Tan is an Associate Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design where she leads the Photonics Devices and Systems Group. Dr. Tan received her doctorate in Electrical Engineering at the University of California San Diego where she was a Powell Fellow. She was previously a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and part of the design team at Californian startup, Luxtera Inc. She was awarded the L’Oréal for Women in Science National Fellowship, named an Innovator under 35 by MIT Technology Review and featured on the Nature Research Inspiring Science Award Longlist.

Dawn’s fields of interest are in experimental optical physics, pertaining to the study of both nonlinear and linear optical phenomena, nanophotonics and quantum optics. Through creative design, photonics can find wide ranging applications in optical communications, computing, imaging, Biomedicine and sensing. She has published three book chapters and over 30 refereed journal and conference articles in the field of integrated optics, silicon photonics and nonlinear optics. Her experience in both industry and academia equips her with a discerning eye on the physical and technological problems which need to be solved in today’s world. Rather than dichotomize design approaches in industry and academia, Dawn seeks innovative solutions which bridge the industry-academia gap.

Prior to joining SUTD, Dawn was involved in outreach programs in the United States. As the president of the NSF Center for Integrated Access Networks student leadership council at UCSD, she worked with K12 students and educators to help promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She is particularly interested in increasing the popularity of engineering among women and enjoys working and interacting with students; In 2017, she delivered a TEDx talk towards promoting gender parity in Engineering fields. She currently serves on the committee of the SCS Women in Technology Interest Group and in 2018, she co-organized the inaugural Women in Technology and Design Conference.


  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering (Photonics), University of California San Diego
  • M.S. Electrical Engineering (Photonics), University of California San Diego
  • B.A.Sc. (Distinction) Electrical Engineering, University of British Columbia

Research Interests

  • Silicon Photonics
  • Nonlinear Optics
  • Optical Information Processing
  • Nanophotonics
  • Optoelectronics
  • Biophotonics

Awards and Achievements

  • PhotonIcs & Electromagnetics Research Symposium (PIERS) – Young Scientist Award, 2019
  • Nature Research Inspiring Science Award Longlist, 2018
  • SUTD Education Awards – Excellence in Research, 2018
  • L’Oréal for Women in Science National Fellowship Winner (Physical and Engineering Sciences), 2017
  • MIT Technology Review, Innovator under 35, 2017 (Emtech Asia Presentation -Breaking the Internet’s Limits: Lighting the Way through Photonics)
  • Featured as a Rising Scientist in Asian Scientist Magazine, 2016
  • President, NSF Center for Integrated Access Networks, UCSD student leadership council, 2009 – 2010
  • Best Paper Award, WIO’ 2009
  • UCSD Graduate Research Assistantship, 2007- 2011
  • Powell Fellowship, 2006
  • Powell Bonus Award, 2006 – 2008
  • UBC Undergraduate Scholar and Deans Honor List

Research Opportunities

Collaborations in the field of Nanophotonics, Nonlinear Optics and Silicon Photonics, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations are very much welcome. Prospective postdoctoral researchers and researchers interested in these fields may contact Prof. Tan with a copy of your CV and for details.

Key Publications

  • D. T. H. Tan, K. J. A. Ooi and D. K. T. Ng, “Nonlinear Optics on Silicon Rich Nitride: A High Nonlinear Figure of Merit CMOS Platform,” Photon. Res. 6, B50-B66 (2018). (Invited Review Article).
  • K. J. A. Ooi, D. K. T. Ng, A. M. Agarwal, L. C. Kimerling and D. T. H. Tan, “Giant Optical Parametric Gains via Ultra-Silicon-Rich Nitride,” OSA Optics and Photonics News, 2017 Year in Optics Special Edition (2017).
  • K. J. A. Ooi and D. T. H. Tan, “Nonlinear graphene plasmonics,” Proc. R. Soc. A 473 (2206), 20170433 (2017). (Invited Review Article, Selected as the Front Cover Article for Oct 2017)
  • E. Sahin, K. J. A. Ooi, G. F. R. Chen, D. K. T. Ng, C. E. Png, and D. T. H. Tan, “Enhanced optical nonlinearities in CMOS-compatible ultra-silicon-rich nitride photonic crystal waveguides,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 111, 121104 (2017)
  • B.-U. Sohn, C. Monmeyran, L. C. Kimerling, A. M. Agarwal, and D. T. H. Tan, “Kerr nonlinearity and multi-photon absorption in germanium at mid-infrared wavelengths,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 111 091902(2017)
  • K. J. A. Ooi, D. K. T. Ng, T. Wang, A. K. L. Chee, S. K. Ng, Q. Wang, L. K. Ang, A. M. Agarwal, L. C. Kimerling and D. T. H. Tan, “Pushing the limits of CMOS optical parametric amplifiers with USRN: Si7N3 above the two-photon absorption edge,” Nature Communications 8, 13878 (2017) (Highlighted by Sciencedaily.com, Novus Light Technologies, Physorg.com, Photonik.de etc.)
  • J. W. Choi, B. Y. Sohn, G. F. R. Chen, C. Smith, L. C. Kimerling, K. A. Richardson, A. M. Agarwal and D. T. H. Tan, “Nonlinear characterization of GeSbS chalcogenide glass waveguides,” Sci. Rep. 6, 27120 (2016).
  • T. Wang, Doris K. T. Ng, S. K. Ng, Y. T. Toh, A. K. L. Chee, G. F. R. Chen, Q. Wang and D. T. H. Tan, “Supercontinuum generation in bandgap engineered, back-end CMOS compatible silicon rich nitride waveguides,” Laser & Photon. Rev., 9: 498 – 506 (2015) (Selected as the Front Cover Article)
  • D. K. T. Ng, Q. Wang, T. Wang, S. K. Ng, Y. T. Toh, K. P. Lim, Y. Yang, and D. T. H. Tan, “Exploring High Refractive Index Silicon-Rich Nitride Films by Low-Temperature Inductively Coupled Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition and Applications for Integrated Waveguides,” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 7(39), 21884-9 (2015).
  • D. T. H. Tan, A. M. Agarwal and L. C. Kimerling, “Nonlinear photonic waveguides for on-chip optical pulse compression,” Laser Photonics Rev. 9(3) (2015) (Selected as the Front Cover Article)
  • T. Wang, N. Venkatram, J. Gosciniak, Y. Cui, G. Qian, W. Ji, and D. T. H. Tan, “Multi-photon absorption and third-order nonlinearity in silicon at mid-infrared wavelengths,” Opt. Express 21, 32192-32198 (2013).
  • D. T. H. Tan, P.C. Sun and Y. Fainman, “Monolithic nonlinear pulse compressor on a silicon chip,” Nature Communications 1, 116, (2010).