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Lehigh Opens Optics Lab

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BETHLEHEM, Pa., Oct. 31 -- Lehigh University has opened the Smith Family Laboratory for Optical Technologies, designed to contribute to the pursuit of optics innovation in telecommunications, among other applications and technologies.

With the addition of the lab, Lehigh's Center for Optical Technologies will continue to expand its core research specialties in photonics and optics to a wide variety of fields. The new facility enables researchers to devise new classes of optical materials and devices and to apply their talents to issues including the use of novel photonic integration techniques for biomedical, military, pharmaceutical and communication application.

"The optics field is wide-ranging and ripe with opportunities within and beyond telecommunications," said Tom Koch, director of the center. "Optics has already had an astounding effect on our ability to instantly access enormous volumes of information at unlimited distances. But there's more to enabling widespread deployment than raw speed, namely, the handling of this traffic and the reduction of costs."

For example, Koch said, new optical devices and techniques are showing great promise for the life sciences, and research in biophotonics is leading toward noninvasive, real-time monitors that improve the precision of medical diagnostics and treatment. In other applications, sensors can provide real-time information on reliability and impending failure of superstructures and can support homeland security and military logistics by detecting environmental and biohazard threats.

"We're also exploring flexible displays that could change the way society accesses information for education, entertainment, business and government," he said.

Lehigh researchers and industry partners are working to use light signals to switch and route other light signals and to convert signals to new wavelengths that enable more efficient network routing. The goal is to facilitate faster and less costly digital communications, possibly providing higher throughputs with reduced heat generation and dissipation.

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Oct 2005
optical materials
Materials that, by virtue of their optical characteristics (i.e. refractive index, dispersion, etc.), are used in optical elements. See crystal; glass; plastic lens.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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