Multidisciplinary ElectroOptics Research Initiative for Kentucky

(18-December, 1996)

ElectroOptics is a multidisciplinary field of research that is contributing increasingly to the economic vitality and technological strength of the U.S. ElectroOptics research includes the development of lasers and laser applications in telecommunications, information processing, and material processing; materials and devices with improved or fundamentally new optical properties; optics design and fabrication; non-destructive optical measurements and sensing; scientific high definition imaging of the visible and infrared; image processing; two and three dimensional display technologies; and psychology and physiology of visual perception.

It is clear that electrooptics is widely applied across disciplines; that many federal funding agencies (including NIST, DOE, DoD, NASA, NIH and NSF, and also the several national laboratories under the auspices of these agencies) are heavily involved; and that federal funding is widely available.

Analysis of electrooptics in Kentucky. Mirroring this national infrastructure in ElectroOptics, Kentucky has geographically and technically diverse activities in electroOptics research.

This analysis indicates that Kentucky has a solid foundation of individual research in electrooptics. The ElectroOptics Research Institute was established to serve as a site around which the statewide efforts can coalesce and grow.

This effort will allow Kentucky to gain increased recognition from national funding agencies that tend to fund large and established electrooptics centers e.g. Institute of Optics, University of Rochester; Optical Sciences Center; University of Arizona; and Center for Research in Electrooptics and Lasers, University of Central Florida. A successful Institute will give Kentucky the prominence to aggressively compete for large scale multi-researcher grants, major infrastructure grants for equipment, renovation and facilities, educational grants and for NSF and DoD Centers.

Relationship to State and Institutional R&D Strategies. 1) A major amount of the research in electrooptics is concerned with material properties, characterization, synthesis and applications. Materials include from large-scale structural materials for rapid prototyping systems down to semiconducting crystals, thin films, multiquantum well structures and polymers for diode lasers, photodetectors and optoelectronic integrated circuits. This research will enhance the materials science and technology focus described in recent Kentucky EPSCoR proposals. 2) Based on the existing research activities it is apparent that there is an institutional commitment by the Kentucky Universities to electroptics. 3) Expanded education and training opportunities in electro-optics for Kentucky students will enhance the work force and technological competitiveness of Kentucky businesses. 4) New courses, at the University of Louisville, have been developed and offered on Physical Optics and Laboratory, Principles of Vision Science, Fourier Optics, Optical Computing, Integrated Optics, Lasers and Quantum Optics, and Microfabrication Theory and Practice. 5) The University of Louisville has constructed as part of its newest building three new laboratories (Electrooptics, Microfabrication Cleanroom, and Computer Vision) in which several of the electrooptics studies reported above are now being performed. 6) A major institutional priority at the University of Louisville, is to increase its research funding and granting of doctoral degrees.