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May 13

by Sheng Liu

Sandia-National-Laboratories-2As the highest level optics/photonics general conference, CLEO is not just for universities, but also heavily participated by national laboratories in USA. This year at CLEO, Sandia National Laboratories will present 26 oral and poster presentations. Notably, 12 (total 17 including coauthored papers) of these will be presented by researchers from the department of Applied Photonic Microsystems, an impressive number from a small department comprised of less than 20

people including staff scientists, post-docs, and student interns.

Some highlights of our papers that will be presented in this year’s CLEO are:

FTu3C.7. Strong Light-Matter Coupling in Mid-Infrared Monolithic Metamaterial  Nanocavities
Alexander Benz; Salvatore Campione; Sheng Liu; Ines Montano; John F. Klem; Michael B. Sinclair; Filippo Capolino; Igal Brener

FTu1C.6. Electrically Tunable Mid-Infrared Metamaterials Based on Strong Light-Matter Coupling
Alexander Benz; Ines Montano; John F. Klem; Igal Brener

FTu1K.5. Apertureless Optical Near-Field Imaging of Localized Modes of Silicon Nanodisks
Terefe G. Habteyes; Isabelle Staude; Katie E. Chong; Jason Dominguez; Manuel Decker; Andrey Miroshnichenko; Yuri S. Kivshar; Igal Brener

FF2C.3. Maximizing Strong Coupling between Metasurface Resonators and Intersubband Transitions
Salvatore Campione; Alexander Benz; John F. Klem; Michael B. Sinclair; Igal Brener; Filippo Capolino

STh4M.7. Wavelength Control of Resonant Photonic Modulators with Balanced Homodyne Locking
Jonathan A. Cox; Anthony L. Lentine; Daniel J. Savignon; Douglas Trotter; Andrew Starbuck

SF2M.6. Coherent Excitation of Multiple Nano-opto-mechanical Modes in Silicon with Ultrafast Time-domain Spectroscopy
Jonathan A. Cox; Aleem Siddiqui; Peter Rakich; Robert L. Jarecki; Andrew Starbuck

FTh4C.3. Investigation of Quantum Dot—Quantum Dot Coupling at High Hydrostatic Pressure
Sheng Liu; Binsong Li; Hongyou Fan; Ting S. Luk; Michael B. Sinclair; Igal Brener

FF2C.6. Optical Magnetic Mirrors using All Dielectric Metasurfaces
Sheng Liu; Igal Brener; Jeremy B. Wright; Thomas Mahony; Young Chul Jun; Salvatore Campione; James Ginn; Daniel A. Bender; Joel R. Wendt; Jon Ihlefeld; Paul Clem; Michael B. Sinclair

STh1N.7. Ultra-Long Duration Time-Resolved Spectroscopy with Enhanced Temporal Resolution of High-Q Nano-Optomechanical Modes using Interleaved Asynchronous Optical Sampling (I-ASOPS)
Aleem M. Siddiqui; Robert L. Jarecki; Andrew Starbuck; Jonathan A. Cox

SM1M.2. Gallium Nitride Nanowire Distributed Feedback Lasers
Jeremy B. Wright; Salvatore Campione; Sheng Liu; Julio Martinez; Huiwen Xu; Ting S. Luk; Qiming Li; George T. Wang; Brian S. Swartzentruber; Igal Brener

SM2J.3. InGaN Quantum Dots for High Efficiency Blue and Green Light Emitters
Arthur J. Fischer; Xiaoyin Xiao; Jeffrey Y. Tsao; Daniel D. Koleske; Ping Lu; Jeremy B. Wright; Sheng Liu; George T. Wang

SW1G.3. Gallium Nitride Nanotube Lasers
Changyi Li; Antonio Hurtado; Jeremy B. Wright; Huiwen Xu; Sheng Liu; Ting S. Luk; Igal Brener; Steven R. Brueck; George T. Wang

Going through our papers, you will find out that all of our papers involve internal collaborations with other departments inside Sandia National Laboratories or external collaborations with universities or research laboratories within or outside USA. This is because of the extreme friendly collaborative environment and world class specialists here in Sandia National Laboratories. For example, staff scientist Igal Brener has 12 coauthored papers this year although he only has 4 post-docs and 1 student intern. Our collaborations with external universities/labs are boosted by The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), which is a joint center between Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratories. CINT is a Department of Energy/Office of Science Nanoscale Science Research Center (NSRC) operating as a national user facility devoted to establishing the scientific principles that govern the design, performance, and integration of nanoscale materials.  It is a user facility with experts in variety of fields such as physics, chemistry, biology and computational science. Here in CINT, we have the world class cleanroom facilities open to both universities and industry. The best part is that it is free of charge, as long as you have a very good idea of how to use our facilities to do great science. We have staff scientists, postdocs and technologies here to train you how to use our facilities. Detailed information of CINT can be found here:


Sandia Doc. 2014-3947W

Sep 06

Artist Rendering of ChemCam Laser Analysis on Mars Science Laboratory. From

This post originally appeared on Jim’s Cleo Blog and is reproduced with the author’s permission.

What do front man for the Black Eyed Peas,, and ultrafast optical pulses have in common? They are both playing crucial role on the newest Mars rover mission. On August 28,’s song “Reach for the Stars” was the first musical composition to be transmitted to Earth from another planet, in this case from Curiosity, twelve days after its  Seven Minutes of Terror landing, complete with state-of-the-art supersonic parachute and sky-crane. I’m still a bit shocked at this science fictionesque feat of impressive engineering seeming to border on hubris. Really, a sky-crane? Really?

While’s  interplanetary music transmission is playing a critical role in science and engineering outreach as part of google+ and Lockheed Martin sponsored initiative SYSTEM (Stimulating Youth for Science Technology Engineering and Math), ultrafast optics is playing a critical role for analyzing the geology of the martian surface. On August 19, ChemCam, an instrument that is a part of the Mars Science Laboratory on board Curiosity, ablated part of a rock with ultrafast optical laser pulses and performed chemical analysis on the emitted plasma to determine rock and soil composition, a first for exogeology. Though the technique, laser induced break-down spectroscopy (LIBS), is almost as old as the laser itself, it has never been performed on another planet. What makes LIBS so useful for Mars exploration is that as an active remote sensing technique, no physical contact needs to be made with the rock or soil under test, including cleaning the sample area.

The previous Mars rovers required a rock abrasion tool to remove dust and outer layers to analyze the more interesting unweathered interior of rock and soil samples. On Curiosity, initial pulses “clean” the area and subsequent pulses create the plasma of interest whose spectrum is to be analyzed. For this instrument standoff distances can be as far as 7 m. The LIBS instrument has been combined with a Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) to give contextual information around the approximate 0.5 mm LIBS interrogation points in a single instrument called ChemCam. The figure below shows the precision of the laser system as well as the resolution of the Micro-Imager at 3 m stand-off.  The choice to burn precision holes in the U.S. dollar and Euro (near Toulouse, France on the Euro map) is in homage to locations of the collaborating institutions  Los Alamos National Laboratory, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, and Centre National de la Recherche.

Demonstration of ChemCam’s shooting accuracy and micro imager resoltion at 3 m standoff after ablating holes in U.S. and European currency respectively. The inset (lower left) shows the difference image. Image from poster “Progress on Calibration of the ChemCam LIBS Instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory Rover,” by principle investigator R.C. Weins, 2010.










Besides the ultrafast laser system, ChemCam is a goldmine of optical engineering and instrumentation. There is honestly something for almost any kind of optical scientist on this instrument. Details can be found both on the ChemCam website and in a review of the instrument suite (an easy geeky read which I had trouble putting down). The laser and imaging optics reside in the mast of ChemCam (the seeming periscope-like eye of the rover) and the spectrometers and supporting equipment live in the body unit. The mast and body are connected by optical fiber.

Schematic of ChemCam. From “The ChemCam Instrument Suite on the Mars Science Laboratory Rover: Body Unit and Combined System Tests,” Space Sci. Rev., DOI 10.1007/s11214-012-9902-4, (2012).














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May 10

From Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) Soldiers from the 713th Engineer Company, out of Valparaiso, Ind., conducted counter improvised explosive device training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center Aug. 20. Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Scotten.

This post originally appeared on Jim’s CLEO blog and is reproduced with permission from the author.

The panelists from Tuesday’s 2:00 pm Market Focus, Defense: Laser Interrogation for Standoff Detection of Hazardous Materials, presented the audience with a difficult problem to which the U.S. Department of Defense is allocating many resources and substantial funding:

How can you accurately detect threats from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosives (CBRNE) from a safe stand-off distance to protect or warn those in harms way?

Laser spectroscopy is the short answer, be it UV Raman, NIR Raman, Long Wave Absorption Spectroscopy, Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), Photoacoustice Spectroscopy, Ultrafast Spectroscopy, just to name a few. However, what kind of spectroscopy you use to identify a threat is just the beginning to making a system that can function in rugged battlefield environments and accurately deliver the information you need in the time you need it.

Panelist Scott Robertson,  Research Senior Manager at Lockheed Martin, posed just how difficult this can be with some specific targets of the type of systems needed in the field. One project whose objective was to analyze threats by the vapors and residues from vehicles needed a stand-off detection distance of 400 m, an entire scan, detect and process time of 1.0 second, with a false alarm rate of only 1 in one million, and packaged in a volume of 1 cubic meter. Another specification target was to be able to scan an area of 2,700 square meters per second while searching a road 100 m wide, while traveling 60 mph.

There are other constraints as well. Tom Stark (no relation to Tony from the Iron Man series), from Landmark Technologies Joint IED Defeat Organization, reminded the audience that 99.9% of the people in an area you want to scan are not the threat. You can’t and  don’t want to blatantly scan a crowd with a potentially dangerous high-power laser system. Another constraint therefore is laser safety, particularly eye safety. Add this to the checklist of specification targets and you start bumping up against fundamental limits for power needed to detect a spectroscopic signature of a threat, as well as selectivity and sensitivity for identification of molecules.

Augustus Fountain, Senior Research Scientist in Chemistry at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, spoke to some of these issues. Fountain spoke about choosing the wavelength/spectroscopic for your method. In the UV you gain in sensitivity but loose in selectivity. The opposite is true as you move into the IR. Another problem to consider in system design is 1/r2 loss and atmospheric attenuation. What kind of time window do you have available for scanning? Is the analyte a mixture of compounds- harder to detect spectroscopically, or something simple?  Scott Roberston echoed many of these remarks. Do you want to identify the threat or do you just want to know if it is going to kill you? The specific use and system dictate different constraints on what you design. Robertson also argued most users want the latter- “just give me a green or red light,” not a beautiful Raman spectrum that requires interpretation. More often you just want to know “threat or no threat” for fast decision making in an environment of potential threats…

(To find out some of the specific lasers needed for current standoff-detection projects, more system requirements, and to read the entire post, click here)


Mar 30

(One of seventeen youtube shorts from the program chairs highlighting hot topics for CLEO 2012)

This post originally appeared on Jim’s CLEO Blog and is reproduced with permission from the author.

For a few years now CLEO conference organizers have been posting youtube shorts highlighting contributed talks, symposia, research trends, and any new or unique directions for the upcoming conference. This year there are seventeen videos from the program chairs, all worth watching. However, for those who prefer text over A/V, I thought it might be helpful to highlight the highlights here.

Conference Program Stats

-The 2012 program has been selected from a record number of submissions.

-In just its second year, CLEO’s new Technology and Applications Conference saw a 50 % increase in submissions.

-350 papers, 15 % of all submissions, live in the subcommittee sections “Nano-optics and Plasmonics” or “Micro- and Nano-Photonic Devices”

-Subcommittee section: “Fiber Amplifiers, Lasers and Devices” was the single committee that received the most submissions

CLEO Applications and Technology: Government and National Science, Security and Standards Applications

In his youtube short, subcommittee Chair Ian Mckinnie of Lockheed Martin Coherent Technologies briefly discusses the two tracks of this subcommittee: 1) Ultrafast Laser Applications and 2) Instrumentation and Sensing.

Mckinnie talks about how the ultrafast program covers a broad range ultrafast laser applications spanning those performed at large facility-class systems to those on a bench top or operating table. These are exemplified by the tutorial talk, AW3J1, “Enabling Science at the Advanced Light Source X-ray Facility” that will be given by Roger Falcone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 4:30-5:30 pm on May 9, and the invited talk AW3J4, “Applications of Ultrafast Lasers” by Mike Mielke of Raydiance Inc., also on May 9, but from 6:00-6:30 pm

The Advanced Light Source (ALS) is a large synchrotron source that produces laser light over an extremely broad spectrum including the hard-to-reach soft x-ray region. Falcone will be discussing the use of the coherent radiation at this user-facility for applications such as precise material processing and biomedical research.

On the other hand, Mielke will be discussing the use of compact fiber systems for micromachining and laser surgery. See blog post “Machining with Ultrafast Pulses” for some stunning videos and more information on these compact micromachining systems.

On the remote sensing side, Massayuki Fujita, from the Institute of for Laser Technology in Osaka, will be giving an invited talk on an application of remote sensing not typically found in the CLEO conference program- nondestructive inspection for heavy industrial processes. Fujita’s talk, ATuG3 “Nondestructive Inspection for Heavy Construction” can be heard on Tuesday May 8, at 2:30 pm.

CLEO Applications and Technology: Industrial Applications

In his video short, subcommittee chair Eric Mottay of Amplitude Systemes discuses the two major trends of the Industrial Applications subcommittee: 1) micro- and nanofabrication techniques and 2) applications of graphene.

Talks in the latter category can be found in a joint session with CLEO: Science and Innovation subcommittee six in session “Graphene and Carbon Advanced Photonic Materials” which will be held form 11:00am-1:00 pm on May 8. This session will host talks presenting graphene-based devices such as detectors, modulators, and tunable resonators. Recall that Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for showing the “exceptional” properties of graphene such as it being simultaneously the thinnest and strongest material, having better electrical conductivity than copper, better heat conduction than all other known materials, and having nearly 100 % transparency yet an extremely high density (so dense helium atoms cannot pass through). Be sure to see how this “magical” material is being translated into devices that may be on the market in the next three to five years.

On the other hand, the invited talks for this subcommitee all center around micro- and nano- fabrication processes. Arnold Gillner of the Fraunhofer Institute will discuss how ultrafast lasers can be used for surface processing at the micro- and nanoscale level for applications in light guiding, fabrication of low friction surfaces, or wear-resistant surfaces. His talk, ATu3L1, “Micromanufacturing and nano surface functionalisation with ultrashort pulsed lasers” is scheduled for May 8, at 4:30 pm. Additionally, Paul Webster from Queen’s University will be discussing online monitoring during fabrication, particularly concerning the control of depth, in invited talk ATu3L5, “Inline Coherent Imaging: Measuring and Controlling Depth in Industrial Laser Processes,” on May 8, at 5:45 pm and Rick Russo from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will be speaking about real-time spectroscopy of a sample after it has been turned into a plasma through laser ablation in talk, AW1H3 “Laser Plasmas for Spectrochemistry” on May 9, at 11:00 am.

CLEO Applications and Technology: Energy and Environment

In his video short, subcommittee chair Christian Wetzel from Rensselaer Polytechnich Institute discusses two trends… click here to read the full original post

May 18

From Arjun G. Yodh, Biomedical Optics Group, University of Pennsylvania MRI axial slice, DOT axial slices of relative total hemoglobin concentration (rTHC), relative blood oxygen saturation (rStO2), relative tissue scattering (rSc), Optical Index, and a 3D image of region of interest are shown for malignant (left-side) and benign lesions (right-side). The black line indicates the tumor region.

This post originally appeared on Jim’s Cleo Blog and is reproduced with permission from its author.

I arrived at CLEO this afternoon bleary-eyed from a long plane ride and lack of sleep. However, three talks in CLEO Applications: Spectroscopy and Imaging held my attention firmly. What impressed me the most was how much information the particular researchers extracted from tissue or a tumor using what seemed like a small amount of data or rudimentary tools.

In presentation AMD4, Arjun Yodh, from University of Pennsylvania demonstrated the power of using highly scattered light from a tissue to not only reconstruct an image deep beneath the tissue surface (~ 1 cm), but to also gather functional information such as blood flow to and from a tumor. This technique, called diffuse optical tomography, relies on a diffusion model of photons through tissue, analogous to the diffusion of heat. In the figure on the left, Yodh and his collaborators could distinguish between malignant and benign breast tumors based on the functional information from diffuse scattering and absorption.

In presentation AMD1, Urs Utzinger from University of Arizona, showed fairly high specificity and selectivity in diagnosing ovarian cancer in post-menopausal patients by fluorescence signals, using UV-A to Near-IR excitation. Selectivity was accomplished by compiling and comparing excitation-emission matrices for malignant and benign tumors. Each value of an excitation-emission matrix is simply the intensity of the emission signal, where the rows of the matrix corresponds to the excitation wavelength and the column corresponds to the emission wavelength.

Finally, in presentation AMD3, David Nolte, of Purdue University showed that he could diagnose the effects of drugs on a tumor by how much it wiggled and shook- its motility. My favorite figure in his talk showed the frequency and strength of cell oscillations as a function of time after a drug or another kind of stimulus, such as heat, had been introduced. What part of the cell wiggled depended additionally on its health indicating motility can be used to label a cell’s state.  Read the full post by clicking here.

May 14

Schematic of SERS Technique from Kneipp et al Chem. Soc. Rev., 37, 1052–1060, (2008).

This post originally appeared on Jim’s Cleo Blog and is reproduced with permission from its author.

There has been a lag in my blog posting lately as I was recently performing my civic duty as juror in a narcotics case in my county for the last three days. Of course as a laser scientist my mind wandered from the case from time-to-time to the subject of how lasers could have been used to aid the investigation. After some browsing through databases, I found some studies using Raman Spectroscopy and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for identification of illegal drugs.

Though no CLEO papers directly address the spectroscopy of controlled substances, there are 65 CLEO papers….Read the full post by clicking here

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