SPIE Member Mark Stockman has been chosen to lead the new Center for Nano-Optics at Georgia State University (GSU), which will expand the university's nanotechnology focus and continue the development of two university inventions - the spaser and the nanoplasmonic metal funnel. These inventions could lead to major breakthroughs in technology and biomedicine, including brighter headlights for cars and bicycles, faster computers that aid in national security, and brighter lasers that identify cancer cells.
Stockman, a physics professor and researcher at GSU, has chaired the conference on "Plasmonics: Metallic Nanostructures and Their Optical Properties" at SPIE Optics + Photonics since 2006.
Stockman will also be teaching a short course at SPIE Photonics West 2014 on nanoplasmonics. The course is intended for engineers, physicists, chemists, and biologists interested in fundamentals and applications of nano-optics.
The spaser is a laser 1,000 times smaller than the smallest laser and 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Success in incorporating spaser technology into transistors, something that cannot be done now, may lead to computer processors that operate 100 to 1,000 times faster than today's processors. Spasers may also help biomedical researchers identify and track single cancer cells in the bloodstream.
"It is the most important technological problem today," said Stockman in an interview with GSU.
The second invention is the plasmonic metal funnel, designed with a very thin needle at the end. This technology allows energy to be delivered to very small spaces. The funnel is already widely used in microscopes to give researchers the ability to see on the nanoscale.
Stockman says the study of nano-optics is important because many objects in nature are of that size, including molecules, parts of cells, DNA, and computer transistors. The field has numerous applications including biomedical research, electronics, ultramicroscopy, the environmental industry, solar energy, and solid-state lighting. Nanotechnology can already be seen in things like brighter bicycle lights, new car headlights, magnetic hard drives, pregnancy tests, and even stained-glass windows.
"The center will unite a group of talented physics faculty that has been developing within the department for close to a decade," Stockman said in a press release. "[It] will allow us to unite our efforts and significant resources, providing a common vision and general plan for the continued development of our inventions."
Stockman and the center team have also been named leaders of a $7.5 million U.S. Department of Defense Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant to study random lasers, nano-spasers and optical rogue waves.