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May 19, 2008

PHYSICISTS AT CCNY DEVELOP TUNABLE LASER WITH BANDWIDTH SPANNING TWO WIDELY USED TELECOMMUNICATIONS WINDOWS

Operation in Both 1.3 μm (Micron) and 1.55 μm Wavelengths Achieved from Single Optical Center in Novel Cr3+-doped (Trivalent Chromium) Laser Crystals

NEW YORK, May 19, 2008 – A team of physicists in the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) of the Physics Department at The City College of New York (CCNY) have developed new near-infrared broadband laser materials with tunability ranges around triple those of earlier crystals. The new crystals have a tunability range of as much as 460 nanometers (nm) and have potential application in such fields as telecommunications, biomedical imaging and remote sensing. 

“For the first time tunable laser operation was achieved at both the 1.33 μm (microns) and 1.55 μm telecommunication windows from a single optical center in trivalent chromium (Cr3+) doped LiInSiO4 (lithium indium silicate) (Cr3+:LISO) and LiInGeO4 (lithium indium germanate) (Cr3+:LIGO) single crystals,” said Dr. Robert R. Alfano, Distinguished Professor of Science and Engineering and Director of IUSL.

The crystals have the widest bandwidth and the most near-infrared shifted wavelength range for laser operation ever demonstrated for the Cr3+ ion, noted Professor Alfano, who earlier this month was awarded The Optical Society of America’s Charles Hard Townes Award for his discovery of and work on the supercontinuum. 

The Cr3+:LISO crystal was tunable in the 1,160 nm to 1,620 nm range; the Cr3+:LIGO crystal was tunable in the 1,150 to 1,600 nm range. Fosterite and Cunyite, earlier crystals developed at CCNY, have bandwidths of 165 nm (1,173 nm to 1,338 nm) and 144 nm (1,348 nm to 1,482 nm), respectively.

Because of their strong optical absorption in the range of laser diode pump sources and quantum efficiency of 50 percent, the new materials have promise for use in miniature broadband laser devices for telecommunication industry, biomedical imaging, optical coherence tomography, laser spectroscopy, ultrafast pulse generation and remote sensing, he added.

In addition to Professor Alfano, the research team included: Dr. Alexei Bykov, Senior Research Associate at IUSL; Dr. Mikhail Sharonov, Senior Research Associate at IUSL, and Dr. Vladimir Petricevic, Professor of Physics at CCNY. The discovery was reported in the December 15 edition of “Optics Letters.”

About the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL)

The Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) of the City University of New York (CUNY) is a world-renowned multidisciplinary research laboratory in the Physics Departmentdevoted to promoting research and education in photonic and laser technologies for scientific, engineering, medical, and industrial applications.

Established in 1982 by Professor Robert R. Alfano, the IUSL has grown to encompass ten laboratories located in the Marshak Science Building of The City College of New York. Research and support staff now total 52. Among the major technical accomplishments are inventions of chromium-based Forsterite, Cunyite, and emerald lasers; fluorescence and excitation biopsy techniques for medical diagnostics; and optical biomedical imaging techniques.  The IUSL researchers have published over 700 papers and have thus far been awarded more than 100 U.S. patents.  The IUSL receives research grants from various federal and state agencies and industrial concerns.  The research funding garnered by the IUSL has been over $3 million per year for the last 5 years.  To date, 50 students, including seven female and five from underrepresented minority groups, have received their Ph.D. degrees in Physics, Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering conducting research at the IUSL laboratories.

About The City College of New York

For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 14,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. For additional information, visit www.ccny.cuny.edu.

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