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RIT Photonics


NSF Awards $1.2M to Rochester Institute of Technology, University of California-San Diego, University of Delaware to Leverage AIM Photonics’ World-Class R&D and Foundry Capabilities

Academic institutions partner with AIM Photonics to realize advanced computing architecture using light; develop mobile probes for identifying specific materials; and enable improved manufacturing processes for photonic devices

The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a public-private partnership headquartered in New York State to advance the nation’s photonics manufacturing capabilities, today announced that three National Science Foundation (NSF) funded grants totaling $1.2 million will enable collaborative photonics-centered R&D with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), University of California-San Diego (UCSD), and University of Delaware (UD), respectively.

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RIT contributes to success of photonics initiative

RIT’s Future Photon Initiative is developing a system of quality-control protocols for a national photonics manufacturing hub located in Rochester.

The system will test and validate photonics devices produced at the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Integrated Photonics facility. RIT, a Tier 1 Academic Member of AIM Photonics, is building software and hardware to interface with technology in development at Columbia University and at Precision Optical Transceivers Inc.

The Future Photon Initiative, an RIT signature research area led by Don Figer, will deliver the operational system to the AIM testing and packaging (TAP) facility in 2019.

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RIT microsystems engineering director named Inventor of the Year by the Rochester Intellectual Property Law Association

Ground-breaking work in nanolithography, first implemented more than 15 years ago by Bruce Smith, remain an industry standard in how semiconductor devices are manufactured today.

For his innovative work impacting advanced microelectronics, Smith, a professor and director of the microsystems engineering doctoral program at Rochester Institute of Technology, was honored as the 2018 Inventor of the Year by the Rochester Intellectual Property Law Association at a ceremony on June 12.

To date, Smith has more than 30 U.S. and international patents, and the foundational technologies he’s developed are the essential building blocks for electronic devices today. As microelectronic devices have progressed toward ever-shrinking dimensions, advances in patterning technology at the nanometer level have been required, he explained. Through innovation in new imaging methods and processes, Smith and his students have been instrumental in the advances in integrated circuit lithography. His many patents in optics, masking and materials have been licensed worldwide.

As one of RIT’s most distinguished alumni, Smith continues advances in semiconductor nanolithography using methods he and his team introduced pushing the resolution limits that are integral to today’s integrated circuits industry. He has advanced semiconductor patterning technology, and his contributions in nanolithography have been detailed in more than 150 publications, textbooks and several book chapters.

“Bruce Smith is an innovator whose work makes a difference,” said Doreen Edwards, dean of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering. “We’ve seen his creativity and drive impact an industry and also influence the many students he has taught. He has been a role model for how you build important technologies that improve people’s lives.”

Smith takes an interdisciplinary approach to research and education which has also led to unique opportunities for students. He has developed courses in microelectronic patterning, materials and processing that have been used as the basis for classes at universities worldwide. Smith has also pioneered unique engineering research experiences for both graduate and undergraduate students. Through support from industrial partners and IMEC (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre) he created the RIT/IMEC/Mentor Graphics Graduate Research Experience for extended student assignments with researchers at the IMEC consortium in Belgium. The program has supported Ph.D. students from RIT and elsewhere for more than 15 years, as Smith has held various visiting professor positions in the U.S., United Kingdom and Europe.

At RIT, Smith is part of the Future Photon Initiative, one of the university’s signature research areas. He is also a Fellow of several prominent professional organizations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, (IEEE, 2015), the Optical Society of America (OSA, 2013), and of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE, 2007). Last year, Smith received the Excellence in Leadership Award from the American Vacuum Society for his contributions to the field of microelectronics and influence on the careers of student-graduates in the fields of engineering and science. The award is given annually to individuals who have made an impact in science and engineering, but also through mentoring, enhancing the careers of future generations who might not otherwise have considered or had access to opportunities in these fields.

Given to individuals from academia, research organizations and Fortune 500 corporations, the Inventor of the Year award highlights innovative and transformative contributions to science, industry and arts. The 2018 nominees recognized at the evening gala were: Steven Goldman, physician, director and professor, University of Rochester Medical Center; Wayne Knox, professor, The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester; Xiaohui Wang, manager, Advanced Clinical Systems & Applications, Carestream Health; David Foos, chief technology officer, Carestream Health; Christopher Mackey, senior scientist, Harris Corp.; and James Schueckler, retired, Kodak and Imaginant Inc.

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RIT’s Santosh Kurinec is recognized for breakthrough work in photovoltaics and for influence mentoring students in engineering careers

Santosh Kurinec, an engineering professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, was one of six influential women from around the world honored for their work as visionaries in technology, engineering and science and inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame. Since 1996, Women in Technology International has recognized women whose work helps shape and improve society.

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Astronomy Magazine's Ask Astro includes FPI Director Dr. Figer
POWER takes part in 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase

The Photonics & Optics Workforce Education Research (POWER) group at RIT College of Science is participating in an online week-long event called STEM for ALL Video Showcase. Check out their video "Workplace Contexts for Math & Communication Preparation" and vote for your favorite.

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Jing Zhang wins National Science Foundation CAREER Award for research on novel ultraviolet photonics technology

Jing Zhang, a faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology, received a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for work to develop new, highly efficient ultraviolet light sources.

Devices Zhang’s research group is creating have the potential to demonstrate that a deeper, fairly unrealized range of the ultraviolet (UV) light spectrum is as efficient as current near-UV used in today’s LED lights. Increasing the efficiencies of optoelectronic devices, specifically using ultraviolet LED technologies, could advance important applications in photolithography, 3D printing, purification systems and a variety of sensing applications.

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Chinese space station headed toward earth

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) - The Tiangong-1 was the first ever space station launched by the Chinese. They eventually lost connection in 2016. Joe Altieri is part of the astronomy club in Rochester and knows all good things come to an end.

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RIT scientist modifies digital cinema technology for future space missions NASA funds development of new astronomical imaging system

Rochester Institute of Technology researchers are developing and testing an astronomical imager inspired by an Oscar-award winning cinema projection system.

RIT scientist Zoran Ninkov modified Texas Instruments’ Digital Micromirror Device—the micro-electro-mechanical systems, or MEMS, device found in Digital Light Processing projectors—to simultaneously capture light signatures from multiple objects in the same area of sky. The RIT astronomical imaging system is competing with other technologies for deployment on future NASA space missions for surveying star and galaxy clusters.

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RIT researchers improve fabrication process of nano-structures for electronic devices

Researchers at RIT have found a more efficient fabricating process to produce semiconductors used in today's electronic devices. They also confirmed that materials other than silicon can be used successfully in the development process that could increase performance of electronic devices. This fabrication process--the I-MacEtch, or inverse metal-assisted chemical etching method--can help meet the growing demand for more powerful and reliable nano-technologies needed for solar cells, smartphones, telecommunications grids and new applications in photonics and quantum computing.

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Newer Horizons: Scientist Pitch Pluto Probe as a Unique Deep-Space Telescope

A maverick group of astronomers is proposing to radically reshape one of NASA’s most successful missions in the modern era, the New Horizons probe that flew by Pluto in 2015 and is now continuing its voyage into the depths of the outer solar system.

The group’s paper describing their proposal, submitted to the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and available as a preprint, suggests that before its fuel is spent and some of the systems are shut down to conserve power, New Horizons should be repurposed as a space telescope that can take advantage of the near-lightless conditions in the outer solar system to study stars, galaxies and more.

According to the paper’s lead author Michael Zemcov, an astrophysicist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the idea is largely meant to “catalyze the discussion.” At the very least, some members of the New Horizons team approached him to try to incorporate the idea into an upcoming mission review. (Only one of the paper’s co-authors is part of the New Horizons mission.)

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In about a year from now, thousands of miles out in space, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will unfurl its mirrors and begin delivering data about the very birth of the universe. In our corner of the planet, RIT professors and students will be interpreting that information to resolve long-held questions about how it all began.

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OSA Rochester and RIT Photonics Open House

Visit labs within the Future Photon Initiative and the Photonics Industry here on RITs campus. 
Join us for an Open House with OSA Rochester, March, 27, 6pm-8:30pm. 


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Dr. Michael Zemcov to lecture at Dark Matter Summer School in Albany

The Dark Matter Summer School Registration is now open! The Summer School program will take place July 16-20 2018. One of the featured lecturers will be Dr. Mike Zemcov, of RIT's Future Photon Initiative and Center for Detectors.

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VIDEO: Searching for the Universe's Hidden Light: RIT contributions to CIBER-2

RIT researchers are designing star-tracking tools for the second Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment, or CIBER-2, an observational cosmology project led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech.

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Chi Nguyen wins one of six Chambliss Student Poster Awards for AAS 231

The latest Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards poster competition occurred 9-11 January during the 231st AAS meeting near Washington, DC. A hundred undergraduates and 70 graduate students completed their entries into the competition — all of them junior (or very newly associate or full) members of the Society (a requirement to participate).

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The universe could be full of more huge stars than we thought

There may be more big stars out there than we thought. A study of part of the Large Magellanic Cloud found significantly more huge stars than we would expect to see, which could mean that there are more supernovae and black holes too.

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RIT Research Will Help Prepare Students for Jobs in Photonics and Optics

Benjamin Zwickl, assistant professor of physics; Kelly Norris Martin, associate professor of communication; and Anne Emerson Leak, post-doctoral researcher in science education, constitute an interdisciplinary team utilizing a nearly $400,000 Education and Human Resources Core Research grant from the National Science Foundation.

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AIM-ing up: Student-researchers help build the photonics ecosystem

Rochester is making an impact in photonics manufacturing, and RIT is playing a central role as a key partner in AIM Photonics, a national manufacturing initiative expected to stimulate economic development and global competitiveness.

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The Galactic Center’s Mysterious Quintuplet Stars Unmasked

Most objects in the center of the Milky Way are so highly obscured from our view by intervening dust that, at wavelengths visible to the naked eye, only about one photon out of every trillion emitted by them toward the Earth actually reaches our planet. 

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Nobody knows how these baby stars got so close to our black hole

A SWARM of baby stars live just a fraction of a light year from our galaxy’s central supermassive black hole. But no one can explain how they ended up so close in their short lifetimes.
Stars form by coalescing out of a cloud of dust and gas. But this can’t happen close to the Milky Way’s centre as the gravity from the supermassive black hole rips apart nearby clouds before any stars can grow.

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Proposed astrophysics mission to conduct the first infrared spectral survey of the entire sky

NASA has recently chosen six proposed astrophysics mission for concept studies. Among them is the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx, which aims to unlock the mysteries of the universe by performing the first all-sky spectral survey.

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RIT astrophysics Ph.D. student wins competitive NASA fellowship

Rochester Institute of Technology graduate student Chi Nguyen was selected for a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship in Astrophysics Research.
Nguyen, originally from Vietnam, is a Ph.D. student in RIT’s astrophysical sciences and technology program. She is one of eight fellowship recipients selected from 141 applicants to the Astrophysics Science Research Program, a division of the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program.

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Sensing technology takes a quantum leap with RIT photonics research Office of Naval Research funds levitated optomechanics project

Mishkat Bhattacharya, a theoretical physicist at RIT, is investigating new precision quantum sensing solutions for the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research. The three-year study is supported by $550,000 grant and is a continuation of a previous award. 

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NASA astronaut photography gets big boost from RIT students and faculty

An informal collaboration among RIT students, alumni and professors culminated in a meeting last week at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Kevin Moser, an imaging science student from Rochester, Minn., and RIT alumnus Peter A. Blacksberg ’75 (photography) made the trip south to meet with the heads of various NASA departments and present an algorithm that Moser spent the last year developing under the Center for Detectors at RIT.

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FPI Members contributing to AIM Photonics’ roadmap to expand the photonics industry

Harnessing light through photonics to power today’s electronic devices is an industry in the making. Rochester became the focal point of that emerging industry when it was awarded a multimillion dollar federal investment in July 2015 to create a national photonics center, AIM—the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics— part of the federal government’s Manufacturing USA institutes.

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FPI Member paper on NASA's New Horizons Surprises With Whole New View Of Cosmos

Prior to cruising well beyond Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft used an onboard imaging telescope to make the best-ever observations of the universe’s cosmic optical background (COB). That is, the sum of the universe’s emitted optical light from beyond our own Milky Way galaxy.

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RIT scientist measures brightness of the universe with NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft Planetary mission offers up-close view of Cosmic Optical Background

Images taken by NASA’s New Horizons mission on its way to Pluto, and now the Kuiper Belt, have given scientists an unexpected tool for measuring the brightness of all the galaxies in the universe, said a Rochester Institute of Technology researcher in a paper published this week in Nature Communications.

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RIT alumnus wins national award for undergraduate physics research Ryan Scott ’16 recognized for developing an experiment for RIT’s quantum mechanics lab

A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Science has been recognized by the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association for his contributions as an undergraduate student researcher to RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

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FPI Partner Precision Optical Transceivers will Expand Operations Into Eastman Business Park

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the expansion of Precision Optical Transceivers, a system engineering company focused on optical transport technology, into Eastman Business Park in Rochester.  "Precision’s Rochester expansion only adds to the region’s momentum as a destination for high tech business and innovation," Governor Cuomo said. "This great news is one more reason why the Finger Lakes is moving forward."

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RIT, FIT Camera Being Tested on ISS

Imaging technology advanced by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) is being tested on the International Space Station (ISS) and could someday be used on future space telescopes. 

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RIT helps advance space camera being tested on ISS Imaging technology could improve search for distant planets

Imaging technology advanced by researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology and Florida Institute of Technology is being tested on the International Space Station and could someday be used on future space telescopes.

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FPI and RIT Alumni to host RIT West Alumni Networking Event Jan. 31

Join Dr. Don Figer of the RIT Future Photon Initiative and Center for Detectors for a presentation and Alumni Networking event in San Francisco Jan. 31. RSVP Here

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Data Centers and Telecommunications-FPI Members Featured in Photonics Media Article

Integration and packaging of optical components such as laser sources, multiplexers, detectors and modulators into a single chip are ushering in a new era of communications to 100 Gbps and beyond.

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Video: Manufacturing Innovation at RIT- featuring Future Photon Initiative

Future Photon Initiative members Stefan Preble and Don Figer are featured in a new RIT video: Manufacturing Innovation at RIT

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Undergraduates working with NASA featured in RIT University Magazine

A team of RIT undergraduates is making a “compass” for rockets using a new kind of detector that will fly on a NASA technology demonstration mission in December.

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FPI and Precision Optical Transceivers featured in RIT Top Stories

Precision Optical Transceivers joins RIT initiative
Precision Optical Transceivers Inc. has become the first member of RIT’s Future Photon Initiative Industry Partnerships Program.

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Precision Optical partners with RIT's Future Photon Initiative

Precision Optical Transceivers Inc. has partnered with Rochester Institute of Technology’s Future Photon Initiative as part of the university’s Industry Partnerships Program, officials announced Tuesday.

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Precision Optical becomes charter member of RIT industry partnerships program

Precision Optical Transceivers Inc. has become the first member of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Future Photon Initiative Industry Partnerships Program.

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FPI member Stefan Preble's work highlighted on

Peer Into the Wide World of Nanotech: Photo 8, The Fast Track. Careening through hairpin turns and racing down straightaways, light packets called photons travel the distance in this nanoscale photonic circuit.

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RIT contributes to Optical Society’s 100th anniversary meeting

Rochester Institute of Technology will have a strong presence at the centennial anniversary meeting of the Optical Society (OSA), an international organization with roots in Rochester.

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RIT engineering faculty Jing Zhang awarded NSF grant for high-tech nanofabrication equipment

Jing Zhang, engineering faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology, received a $305,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to acquire a new etching system for photonic, electronic and bio-device fabrication.

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Students Build CSTARS

Students at the Rochester Institute of Technology are building an attitude control system that works at the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

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Engineering Undergrads Reach for the Stars with NASA Funded Project

How does any ship, from watercraft to spacecraft, successfully navigate away from the sight of natural landmarks on the Earth’s surface? 
By using the stars.

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RIT to get federal funding for photonics research

The Rochester Institute of Technology will receive $305,000 in federal funding through the National Science Foundation, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Thursday.

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RIT undergraduates build star-tracking instrument for NASA research rockets

Experiment tests new detector technology operable at cryogenic temperatures

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For Integrated Photonics, a tale of two materials

With its suitability for monolithic integration for optics and photonics, silicon has been widely hailed as the material of the future. But graphene — with its capacity for signal emission, transmission and detection — could be the next disruptive technology.

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Future Photon Initiative Featured in RIT Research Magazine

Photonics is the field of technology that uses photons to process information or energy. Around the RIT campus, significant photonics research already takes place.

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Future Photon Initiative Feature Article in the RIT Research Magazine

The Future Photon Initiative (FPI) will leverage RIT’s unique assets to develop advanced photonics, which represents the cutting edge of the field of photonics, with the ultimate goal of becoming one of the most effective applied photon research and development centers in the world. 

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RIT announces strategic research initiatives

Rochester Institute of Technology has designated four areas of research as strategic to the college's future, with each area awarded up to $1 million in  investments from RIT over five years.

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