Newest APS Fellow Driving Groundbreaking Sensing Technology in Oil & Gas

I’m writing to tell you all about a prestigious honor and a significant award that was recently earned by one of my colleagues and fellow Photonics Lab team members at GE Global Research. It is a great pleasure to share the news that Dr. William A. Challener, a physicist in the Photonics Laboratory, has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). He received his award during a ceremony at the March APS meeting in Denver.



Bill was cited “for contributions to the understanding of surface plasmon physics and its application to data storage and biosensing.” He was nominated by the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics within the APS. This is a significant and impressive honor for Bill. Last year there were 248 fellows selected out of a membership of ~50,000.  Most of them were either in universities or national labs, with only thirteen industrial physicists selected.

Now, let me tell you a bit more about Bill’s work.  Bill joined GE Global Research in 2010. For the past four years his emphasis has been on developing advanced photonics technologies for multiple GE applications, including development of advanced photonic sensor systems for geothermal applications. Bill is currently leading a two-year project to develop a multi-point fiber optic sensing system to measure temperature, pressure, and acoustic conditions in CO2 sequestration cavities deep underground.  The sensors and the associated packaging techniques that Bill and the team are exploring are designed to operate in incredibly harsh environments – in wells up to 2km deep – for up to 20 years.  Here’s a video of Bill in the lab showing a pressure sensor that was recently developed at Global Research:

GE has a great interest in advanced sensor technology. The development of robust sensors that can operate reliably in extreme environments will make it possible to gather more data from more points on our equipment.  Bill’s work, in particular, could help our GE Oil & Gas business develop new products that offer improved, real-time downhole sensing capabilities, such as in geothermal wells. His work is part of a broader set of sensor technologies we are developing using an array of technical principles and disciplines (from materials science to computer science) that is not only focused on ensuring the collection of reliable data about an oil/gas field, but also expands the level of information that can be captured and analyzed.  This sensing platform also will contribute to field and well operations that are even safer and more efficient.

Before I close, one last note about Bill Challener.  In case you didn’t know – he’s also an author. Prior to joining GE, Bill was a researcher at 3M and a scientist at Seagate Technologies, where he developed a novel data storage technology based on plasmonics. In 2010 he co-authored a well-received book on the topic of plasmonics entitled Modern Introduction to Surface Plasmons.

Please join me in congratulating Bill Challener on this well-deserved award and stay tuned for more updates on our work in photonics technologies!

– Loucas


  1. Samhita dasgupta

    Very well deserved, many congratulations Bill and let’s not forget, this is a great honor for GE as well..

  2. Masako Yamada

    Well-deserved award!

  3. Dan Gray

    Congratulations Bill!