Texas Tech professors awarded $2M grant to develop next-gen lasers for military use

Aug. 15, 2012
Lubbock, TX--Two Texas Tech University professors recently received a five-year, $2 million grant to advance the development of nanoscale materials that could lead to more compact and powerful high-energy solid-state lasers for use by the military in missile defense systems.

Lubbock, TX--Two Texas Tech University professors recently received a five-year, $2 million grant to advance the development of nanoscale materials that could lead to more compact and powerful high-energy solid-state lasers for use by the military in missile defense systems.

The five-year grant, awarded by the High Energy Laser Multidisciplinary Research Initiative program supported by the High Energy Lasers-Joint Technology Office and Army Research Office, was awarded to Hongxing Jiang, Ed Whitacre endowed chairman and professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Jingyu Lin, Linda Whitacre endowed chair and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Jiang and Lin came to Texas Tech in 2008 to establish the university's Nanophotonics Center, and research solid-state lighting technology and devices that emit both visible and UV light. Because their research focuses on nanoscale materials, there is a potential to create smaller, more cost-effective, and more energy-efficient lighting sources and technologies.

The solid-state lighting technologies under development at the Nanophotonics Center will lead to energy-efficient lighting. Additionally, Jiang and Lin’s research could aid the development of miniature displays in helmet-mounted or head-up display systems of aircraft pilots and on-deck air controllers. New display technologies will reduce weight and energy usage while offering real-time information processing and increased shock resistance, thus improving the quality of information received by the military.

The $2 million grant from the Army Research Office builds on their existing research. In 2010, Jiang and Lin received a $1.24 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-Microsystems Technology Office’s Compact Mid-Ultraviolet Technology program for the development of deep ultraviolet photonic devices that have application to improve water purification and medical disinfectant technology, as well as a $1.55 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security for the development of solid-state neutron detectors for nuclear materials sensing.

“Currently, very large machines are used at shipping ports to scan large crates coming off of ships for nuclear materials,” explains Lin. “Our work could possibly reduce the size of those scanners so that they could be handheld, making it easier and less expensive to scan more cargo.”

Jiang and Lin’s work has led to more than 20 patents on related (Ill-nitride) semiconductor device technologies. The design and fabrication of these novel devices are among the most prominent technologies for energy-efficient solid-state lighting and have been adopted by the LED industry worldwide.

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