The Center for Nano-Optics, a research center whose focus on the science of developing tools and instruments as small as 1,000 times thinner than a human hair could lead to major breakthroughs in technology and biomedicine, has been created at Georgia State University.
"Creation of the Center for Nano-Optics is an important next step for the university," said James Weyhenmeyer, vice president of research and economic development. "Under the leadership of Georgia State Physics Professor Mark Stockman, a group of physics faculty will expand the university's nanotechnology focus and continue the development of two university inventions – the spaser and the nanoplasmonic metal funnel."
The spaser is a laser that is 1,000 times smaller than the smallest laser and also 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Success in incorporating spaser technology into transistors, something that cannot be done now, may lead to computer processors that operate 100 to 1,000 times faster than today's processors. The spasers may also help biomedical researchers identify and track single cancer cells in the bloodstream.
The second invention is the plasmonic metal funnel designed with a very thin needle at the end. This technology allows energy to be delivered to very small spaces. The funnel is already widely used in microscopes to give researchers the ability to see on the nanoscale.
"The center will unite a group of talented physics faculty that has been developing within the department for close to a decade," Stockman said. "This [center] designation will allow us to unite our efforts and significant resources, providing a common vision and general plan for the continued development of our inventions."
In addition to Stockman, the center faculty includes: Vadym Apalkov, Nikolaus Dietz, Xiaochun He, Alexander Kozhanov, Steven Manson, Ramesh Mani, Unil Perera, and Murad Sarsour. Their combined research efforts have led to the accumulation of more than $11 million in federal funding and publication in premier science journals, including Nature, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Photonics, Physical Review Letters and Nature Communications. They have formed international partnerships with researchers in Germany, France, India, Italy, S. Korea, Taiwan, China and Australia.
Stockman and the center team have also been named leaders of a $7.5 million U.S. Department of Defense Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant. In the framework of this MURI grant, the researchers will work with Purdue University, the University of Central Florida, the University of California at Berkeley, Yale University and Cornell University to study random lasers, nano-spasers and optical rogue waves.
Georgia State's strategic plan places a high importance on the creation of new centers and enhancement of existing collaborative research groups. The university is already home to the Center for Inflammation, Immunity and Infection; and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.