Under the directorship of Distinguished Professor Robert R. Alfano as principal investigator, the IUSL has established itself as a premier research institution within the CUNY system, and a major academic photonics research center in the world. Included in 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 were awarded 100 U.S. patents over the years. To date, 50 students, including 7 female and 5 minority students, received their Ph.D. degrees pursuing research at the IUSL laboratories. They are employed in academic institutions and industrial laboratories throughout the U. S. and abroad.
The IUSL has played a major role in attracting federal, state, and industrial support for photonics research at the CCNY. It has been a resource center for attracting the following major research programs and initiatives to CUNY.
- In 1987, the Mediphotonics Laboratory was established with a grant from the Mediscience Technology Corp., an industrial affiliate.
- In 1993, the New York State Science and Technology Commission awarded CUNY a Center for Advanced Technology in Ultrafast Photonic Materials and Applications (CAT-UPMA). The CAT involves participation of 45 faculty members from 6 different CUNY campuses. It was supported at a level of $1M/year for 10 years. The CAT was redesignated in 2004 for another 10 years.
- In 1994, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded an Institutional Research Award in Tunable Solid State Lasers and Optical Imaging with a 5-year $3.8 M funding. The award was renewed for 3 additional years in 1999.
- In 1997, the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a grant to establish the Center for Laser Imaging and Cancer Diagnostics as a part of its Center of Excellence Program. This 3.5-year award was funded at $365,000 per year.
- In 2002, New York State Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) awarded an Enhanced Center for Advanced Technology (E-CAT) jointly to CUNY and SUNY Buffalo.
- Also in 2002, the Infotonics Center of Excellence awarded an IUSL/CUNY-led consortium of 8 universities, including 7 from New York State, a major grant for developing photonic microexplorers.
- In 2003, NASA awarded IUSL-CCNY a multi-million dollar University Research Center grant for establishing the Center for Optical Sensing and Imaging at CCNY.
- Also in 2003, the DoD awarded another grant to establish a Center for Photonic Emitters and Sensors for military, medical, and commercial applications.
The IUSL receives research grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA), DOE, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and other federal organizations. The research funding garnered by IUSL has been over $3 M per year for the last 5 years.