We are continuing our series of discussions with the Acacia team to share more about their work, attendance at industry conferences, and views on industry trends. Recently, we spoke with Acacia’s Optical Engineer BinBin Guan to hear more about his role at Acacia and his thoughts on Python.


Q: What is your role at Acacia Communications and what does it entail?

A: I joined Acacia’s silicon photonics group in January 2016 as an optical engineer. I work in the New Jersey office with Chris Doerr and focus on design verification and testing for our silicon PIC elements. I’m involved with testing and driver calibration to determine our matrix. Prior to joining Acacia, I held research and development positions at UC Davis, Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Laboratories.


Q: In addition to your activities at Acacia I understand that you are involved with ECOC’s Lab Automation Hackathon. How did you get involved and what is your role?

A: ECOC 2017 is hosting the Lab Automation Hackathon. This spring, the event organizers invited me join Jochen Schröder of Chalmers University of Technology and Nicolas Fontaine from Nokia Bell Labs as a special event organizer. This is a great opportunity to encourage other optical engineers to realize the power and benefits of the Python programming language.


Q: Talk to us a little about why Python was chosen as the Lab Automation Hackathon topic.

A: Python is an easy to read and use programming language. The mission of the Python Software Foundation is to promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of the international community of Python programmers. Python has a very active community, so if a programmer has a question they can simply post a question to it and get a quick response.

I started using Python in 2011, and it helped me write and read code easily. It is also easy to find and use many scientific tools that are developed by scientists and researchers all over the world. It saves lots of time for developing new testing blocks for engineers like me.


Q: What is the goal of the Lab Automation Hackathon?

A: We want attendees to understand they can use different programming tools, such as Python, and they don’t need to rely solely on tools that are commercial and expensive. More importantly, we want to them to understand Python’s ability to quickly get a lab experiment running and can display the measurements in a browser, which is the simplest IDE (integrated development environment) for most of the engineers. During this hackathon they will hear directly from companies that work in the photonics industry about how they can take advantage of Python to create easy-to-use interfaces for their software and hardware, and to design integrated photonics layout, etc.


The Lab Automation Hackathon at ECOC is taking place on September 17 from 19:30 – 22:00 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The special event is so popular that it is fully booked. ECOC organizers will announce if there are cancellations that open up additional spots to participate. If you’d like to learn more about Python or Acacia, request a meeting at ECOC by emailing