Duncan MacFarlane, Ph.D.

Duncan MacFarlane

Duncan MacFarlane, Ph.D.

Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship
Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Office Location: Junkins 321

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  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, Portland State University
  • M.B.A. Southern Methodist University
  • M.S. Electrical Engineering, Brown University
  • B.S. Electrical Engineering, Brown University


Duncan MacFarlane holds the Lyle Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship at Southern Methodist University. Duncan has written more than 100 technical papers or patents in the general area of photonic systems and components. Specific research projects have included micro-optics, ultrafast lasers, photonic integrated filters, nonlinear optics, semiconductor lasers, RF and optical communications, and advanced displays. His work in photonic filters is used widely by practicing optical component and system engineers in industry. He pioneered the manufacture of micro-optics using ink jet techniques, and invented a novel 3-dimensional volumetric display which has found application in aerospace.

Prior to joining SMU, Duncan spent 26 years at The University of Texas at Dallas. An early hire in the then nascent Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science he contributed to the definition and growth of a top engineering school. Duncan served as Program Head of Telecommunications Engineering, and as Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Programs he started three new departments (Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, Systems Engineering and Management) and six new degree programs. He has worked at Schafer Associates, Texas Instruments and at JDS Uniphase, and helped start Celion Networks, a telecommunications system start-up backed by Sequoia. He is a co-Founder of MRRA, a company dedicated to improving medical imaging through supporting instrumentation. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Electromagnetics, Microwave Engineering, Optics, Probability and Statistics, Signals and Systems, Communication Systems and Electronics. Duncan received his BSEE and MSEE from Brown University, his Ph.D. from Portland State University and his MBA from SMU. Duncan is a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America.

Honors and Awards

  • Fellow: Optica (formerly Optical Society of America)
  • Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science (UT Dallas) Award for Teaching Excellence (2014).


  • Photonic Integrated Circuits
  • Photonic filtering and signal processing
  • Optical instrumentation
  • Optical communications
  • Quantum Informatics

Recent Publications

  • H. Shahoei, I. Achu, E. Stewart, U. Tariq, W. Oxford, M. Thornton, and D. MacFarlane, "Silicon photonics 2 × 2 trench coupler design and foundry fabrication," Appl. Opt.  61 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1364/AO.453464
  • Duncan L MacFarlane, Hiva Shahoei, Ifeanyi G Achu, Evan Stewart, Wiliam V Oxford, Mitchell A Thornton, “Multiple-Valued Logic Physically Unclonable Function in Photonic Integrated Circuits,” pp 184-189, 2023 IEEE 53rd International Symposium on Multiple-Valued Logic (ISMVL). https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/10153812
  • Nafiseh Aflakian, Tim P LaFave, K. O Kenneth, Solyman Ashrafi, Duncan L MacFarlane, “Design, fabrication, and demonstration of a dielectric vortex waveguide in the sub-terahertz region,” Applied Optics 56, 7123-7129 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1364/AO.56.007123 
  • Sahil Sakpal, Giovanni Milione, Min-Jun Li, Mehdi Nouri, Hiva Shahoei, Tim LaFave, Solyman Ashrafi, Duncan MacFarlane, “Stability of Ince–Gaussian beams in elliptical core few-mode fibers,” Optics Letters 43, 2656-2659 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.43.002656