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4 Photonics Projects Get Defense Funding

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded funding totaling $28.3 million for four photonics graduate research projects under its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI).

Brief summaries of the projects follow. For further information on each project, follow the hyperlinks provided.

• $7.5 million for study of photochemical and photophysical processes involving plasmonic nanoparticles. Potential applications include water remediation, sterilization, distillation and electric power generation.

One project group will examine the charge and energy transfer between plasmons and molecules, while another will use spectroscopy to measure the processes in real time. Team members come from the universities of Columbia, Princeton, Rice, Minnesota and Oldenburg, Germany.

• $7.5 million for exploration of plasma-based photonic crystals and metamaterials that operate in the terahertz range. Potential applications include communications, imaging and remote sensing.

Team members come from the universities of Pennsylvania State, Stanford, Tufts, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); University of Texas at Austin; and Washington.

• $6.75 million for research into quantum computers. One goal of the new project is to communicate information between electrical quantum states and light using high-frequency mechanical motion as the intermediary. Specifically, the team will exploit the piezoelectric effect in optomechanical devices so as to transfer information between optical, vibrational and electrical quantum states.

The team includes members from the University of Chicago, Cornell, McGill and Yale universities, and the California Institute of Technology.

• $6.5 million to examine configurable metasurfaces that manipulate light for advances in lenses, communications, imaging and quantum information.

Team members come from the universities of Harvard, Columbia, Lund, Purdue, Stanford, Pennsylvania and Southampton.

The photonics projects are among 24 basic research initiatives at 64 academic institutions receiving a total of $167 million over the next five years from DOD. Initially, 361 white papers were received, 88 of which were selected for more detailed proposals.

DOD said past MURI projects have led to advances in laser frequency combs for precision in navigation and targeting, atomic and molecular self-assembly, and spintronics.

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