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Ooi garners international honor and an NSF contract

Boon Ooi

Boon Ooi, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering renowned internationally for his work in semiconductor photonics, has recently earned additional recognition for his research.

Ooi, a faculty member with Lehigh’s Center for Optical Technologies, has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics for contributions to semiconductor photonics integration using quantum-well/dot intermixing.

The institute, headquartered in the United Kingdom, has a worldwide membership of more than 34,000.

Ooi has also received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research on broadband diode lasers.

Meanwhile, Ooi’s work was featured earlier this year in Compound Semiconductor, a technical journal published by the Institute of Physics. An article titled “Dashes beat dots for high-power lasers” described Ooi’s collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory in Maryland and with IQE, a leading supplier of semiconductor wafer products. At Lehigh, Ooi and his group collaborate with James Hwang, director of Lehigh’s Compound Semiconductor Technology Laboratory and a faculty member of the COT.

In that article, Ooi claims to have developed the first high-power broadband semiconductor laser that operates at 1.6 microns. Conventional quantum-well lasers emit at 1.55 microns, says Ooi, while “Lehigh’s quantum-dash laser displays significantly broader linewidth at comparable output power.”

Ooi’s laser is based on indium-phosphide (InP), says the article, and features indium-arsenide (InAs) quantum dashes. It has a center wavelength of 1.64 microns and a 76-nanometer wavelength range. (One micron is one one-millionth of a meter; one nm is one one-billionth of a meter.) The light sources show promise in gas detection and dental imaging as well as such military applications as range-finding and burst illumination imaging.

In the NSF project, Ooi and his team are developing a new class of ultra-broadband semiconductor lasers with a lasing bandwidth that spans multiple optical communications channels at a near-infrared wavelength. The laser, says Ooi, has potential applications for optical fiber communications, spectroscopy, sensing, metrology (measuring) and imaging.

Most existing ultra-broadband light sources are generated using optics and laser systems that are expensive and bulky, says Ooi. A conventional diode laser generally produces a narrow spectrum ranging in width from less than 1 nanometer to a few nm.

The laser proposed by Ooi is a compact, cost-effective and high-efficiency broadband diode laser that will produce about 100 times more spectral width than that produced by existing semiconductor lasers.

Ooi and his team successfully demonstrated their 1.64-micron-wavelength semiconductor laser earlier this year in Montreal at the IEEE-LEOS annual meeting, a major conference devoted to research in photonics and lasers. The work was also published in Applied Physics Letters.

Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007

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