2 Major Contracts for UA Optical Sciences
The University's advanced optics technologies will address the national interest through multiyear engagements with the Department of Defense.

UA College of Optical Sciences
April 7, 2016

In the past month, the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences was awarded two major research contracts, each representing comprehensive, multiyear engagements with the U.S. Department of Defense.

The awards highlight the recognized role of UA faculty in addressing the national interest through advanced optics technologies. The two programs — funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL — involve cutting-edge innovation with applied outcomes through industrial partnering to push the boundary of optics and photonics capabilities.

American Institute of Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) Award: As part of the public-private partnership announced in July 2015 by Vice President Joe Biden, the UA has been awarded its first $1 million contract for both research and workforce development initiatives associated with the advancing a powerful national manufacturing capability for Photonic Integrated Circuits, or PICs. 

The award highlights the UA’s academic leadership role as one of the Tier 1 members of the institute together with partners SUNY Polytechnic Institute; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of California, Santa Barbara; Columbia University; the University of Rochester; Rochester Institute of Technology; and the University of California, Davis. A team of UA faculty, including Dean Thomas Koch and professors Nasser Peyghambarian, Robert Norwood and Stanley Pau, will be working with major semiconductor and packaging firms in the development of innovative manufacturing solutions for getting larger numbers of laser signals in and out of PICs.

PIC technology enables optical systems to be miniaturized and fabricated on semiconductor wafers and chips. Just as electronic integrated circuits, or ICs, revolutionized electronics by miniaturizing transistor circuitry, PICs integrate lasers and other optical devices to route and process information with higher functionality but reduced size and power.

"This is our first-year project in the institute, and we are looking forward to many continuing fruitful engagements for UA as a leading university participant in AIM," Koch said.

Revolutionary Enhancement of Visibility by Exploiting Active Light Fields (REVEAL) Award: Through $2.8 million of funding by DARPA, REVEAL sets the stage for the next generation in imaging science and technology. The UA's principal investigator, professor Amit Ashok, will lead a team of university and industry partners in developing a comprehensive theoretical framework and the requisite technologies for maximum information extraction from complex scenes.

If successful, Ashok’s work will help to open an entirely new dimension of design space and determine a roadmap for the next generation of technology to exploit this new imaging framework. One of the key highlights of the new imaging technology would be the ability to exploit complex reflections of light in a scene to allow the camera to essentially "look through objects or look around corners," Ashok says. Such a revolutionary capability would have far-reaching impact on a host of imaging applications in defense, commercial and scientific arenas. 

"It’s clear that the UA’s prominence in optical science and technology can be a key enabler for the University to grow its presence in defense- and security-related applications. These recent wins are a testament to this potential," noted Austin Yamada, director of the UA’s new Defense and Security Research Institute.