Our lab focuses on ultraviolet (UV) to terahertz (THz) photonics research. The synergy among the projects comes from our focus on designing photonic devices that detect, generate, or manipulate light.

Selected Research Nuggets:

Laser Medicine

We are developing a number of different laser medicine technologies with various teams of physicians at UIHC.

One project is focused on utilizing compact mid-infrared (MIR) quantum or interband cascade lasers emitting in the MIR (can be designed to emit the entire MIR range of 3 μm to 30 μm by quantum engineering) for surgical applications. Amines, alcohols, and amides have strong absorption in the MIR and can be ablated at much lower ablation thresholds using MIR lasers than NIR lasers. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Mitch Coleman and Dr. Ben Miller of UIHC for improving surgical outcomes of sarcoma resection. We are also investigating precise MIR laser ablation for treating cardiac conditions with Dr. Sandeep Laroia.

Another project is focused on delivering and monitoring laser radiation effectively in photodynamic therapy (PDT) of cancers. This is a collaboration with Dr. Gal Shafirstein at Roswell Park (where PDT was invented), and physicians and Rad Onc researchers at UIHC. 

Latest efforts include a collaboration with the Human Brain Research Lab team at UIHC to develop EM models for studying neural activity pre- and post-Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) procedures.

Nanotextured Optoelectronic Biosensors

Silicon Nanowire Arrays based Biosensors 

Nanowires (NWs) are effective sensing structures due to their large surface area to volume ratio. However, contacting the NW arrays is challenging. Our silicon (Si) NW optoelectronic biosensor is made by a bundle of vertically oriented NWs, allowing us to electrically contact millions of NWs per cm2 simultaneously, compared to 10’s of NWs in other state-of-the-art NW biosensors. We are developing these sensors for cancer antigens, emerging water contaminants such estrogenic compounds, and COVID-19.

Collaborators on the project include Professor Aliasger Salem's labDr. Saima Sharif, and Professor Gregory LeFevre.

 

III-V Nanowire Optoelectronics

Our team’s goal is to use NWs to develop novel semiconductor optoelectronics devices, such as, photovoltaics, lasers, and LEDs. We are developing the selective area epitaxy (SAE) technique to grow III-V NWs on inexpensive silicon substrates utilizing molecular beam epitaxy. The NW carrier dynamics and optoelectronic response are characterized by ultrafast optical pump-probe spectroscopy, quantum efficiency, and  photoluminescence measurements. 

Collaborator on the project includes Professor John Prineas' lab at UIowa. Funded by the National Science Foundation Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices (EPMD) program.

Metamaterials
and Metasurfaces

In this research project we are developing terahertz (THz) metamaterials with frequency-domain modulating functionality for THz spectroscopy. Being situated between infrared light and microwave radiation, the absorption of THz rays in molecular and biomolecular systems is dominated by the excitation of intramolecular and intermolecular vibrations. This indicates that THz technology is an effective tool for sensing applications. The design of the metamaterials is performed utilizing COMSOL finite element method based analytical modeling and fabricated using a novel Laser-based Metasurface Fabrication (LMF) method. The relationship between the filter design and bandpass characteristics are determined through THz spectrometer. 

Collaborator on the project includes Professor Hongtao Ding. Funded by ITI's Research Initiative Seed Program's Genesis grant. 

 

Our research sponsors to-date include: