Electromagnetic waves are the basic fundamental energy source that are associated with communication systems ranging from human perception to space communications. Scientists exploited the use of electromagnetic energy to build many modern devices such as computers, televisions, microwave ovens, radios, lasers, and cellular telephones. These technologies have greatly made the world smaller in the sense of the rate at which we can communicate with each other. Most of the interest in electromagnetic energy in the past has involved long wavelengths such as radio waves, radar, and microwaves. As the need grows for the information to be transmitted over smaller devices and at much higher rates, there has been an increasing interest in the movement of electromagnetic energy at optical frequencies. This interest has been especially accelerated with the discovery of the laser in 1963. The laser provides a very unique form of electromagnetic energy, which scientists are now exploiting in new and novel ways. At the national and international level photonic and electromagnetic technologies have tremendous implications for the future competitiveness of the United States. Countries that are able to compete in the optical revolution that is taking place throughout the work will be the future leaders both economically as well as politically.

The Center for Electro-Optics is a unique comprehensive research center whose faculty an graduate students work on problems related to electro-magnetic and optical technologies. The Center is especially noted for the high quality of its research and publications. Our client/funding sources include over 50 government and private sector organizations, with $14 million in external funding received to date. Researchers in the Center collaborate with past recipients of Nobel prizes as well as other nationally recognized scientist and engineers. Faculty in the Center have received patents on their work and have received national recognition for their contributions to the scientific literature in their field. In addition, the Center is providing a unique product, the future scientists and engineers in a rapidly growing area.

The dedicated faculty, graduated students, staff, and government and industrial sponsors have laid a solid foundation on which to continue to build a center with the highest excellence in mind. It is truly an exciting time to be able to be part of the optical revolution and applied electromagnetic revolution that is taking place. The next seven years promise to be exciting and challenging time for the researchers as we enter into funding periods that are not driven by military needs. However, other agencies like NSF have recognized the importance of Optical Science and Engineering and are taking steps to increase the funding in this strategic area of national economic interest.

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your hard work and the support of this unique Center. I welcome any input that you could provide with regard to our unique teaching and research activities.

Dennis R. Alexander, Director

Current Research

  • Functionalization of metal surfaces using femtosecond laser surface processing

  • Enhanced heat transfer by tuning the wetting properties of metal surfaces
  • Writing of fiber Bragg and long period gratings using femtosecond laser pulses