Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Center for Optical Technologies lights the way

As it completes nine years of operation, Lehigh’s Center for Optical Technologies (COT) has earned international acclaim for developing advanced optical devices with biomedical, homeland security, pharmaceutical, sensor, energy and other applications.

Since opening in January 2001, the COT has attracted more than $20 million in funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and more than $75 million in leveraged funding from sources outside the state.

In addition, the COT has received contributions from Lehigh and from private donors, along with new faculty positions and lab equipment. Most notable has been a generous gift from Daniel E. Smith ’71, chairman of Lehigh’s board of trustees, which made possible the construction of the Smith Family Lab in 2005. Smith is president and CEO of optical networking pioneer Sycamore Networks Inc.

Just as impressive, says COT industrial liaison officer Kimberly Trapp, are two other statistics. COT-affiliated researchers, including more than 25 members of the Lehigh faculty as well as graduate students, published more than 2,200 journal articles and filed 80 patents and invention disclosures through the end of 2008.

"These are really phenomenal numbers and they’ve helped the COT solidify its global reputation," says Trapp.

The COT is a highly interdisciplinary center, drawing faculty and students from the departments of physics, electrical and computer engineering, biological sciences, chemistry, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering and mechanics, and from the polymer science and engineering program. The center’s partners include Penn State University, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton Community College, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

On Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 5 and 6, in the Rauch Business Center, the COT will hold its eighth annual open house. More than 100 people from industries and universities around the U.S. are expected to attend, and Lehigh faculty and graduate students will give nine presentations.

The two-day event will include workshops in nanophotonics and biophotonics, poster presentations and free tutorials in four areas: plasmonic device technology, coherent communications technology, techniques in bioimaging, and semiconductor-based energy technologies.

Guest speakers at the open house include Cary Gunn, chief technology officer of Luxtera Inc. and Genalyte Inc., and John Sider, deputy secretary in the DCED’s Technical Investment Office.

Also, COT director Thomas Koch will give an overview of the center’s research accomplishments.

COT’s mission is to advance the science and global application of optical technologies through industrial partnerships at the local, domestic and international level that drive growth and diversity in the industry while providing leadership in educating the next generation of Pennsylvania’s optics workforce.

More information, and a full schedule of events, is available at the COT’s web site.


Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Friday, October 02, 2009

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