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ECE team wins $3 million to advance infrared detector technologies at Ohio State
Landing planes in zero visibility. Detecting pollution at the nanoscale.
A potential $3 million in new grant funding could help make The Ohio State University a worldwide leader in next-generation infrared detector technologies.
Electrical and computer engineering (ECE) professor Sanjay Krishna had only been at Ohio State a month, hired as part of the university’s Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability (M&MS) Discovery Themes initiative, before landing the grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
“This means great things for Ohio State’s Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability Discovery Theme initiative,” Ohio State professor Steve Ringel said, who leads the M&MS program to create pre-eminence in materials and technologies for sustainability, focusing on innovation and industry deployment.
"Sanjay is the epitome of what M&MS is all about," Ringel said. "Not only is he a world leader in critical areas of science and technology that impact energy and the environment who, through awards such as this, is already enhancing our prominence academically, but he is also dedicated to the translation of those successes into the private sector through his innovative activities as an entrepreneur."
The new grant funding comes on behalf of the High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office (HEL-JTO) Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program, under the Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, (DUSDS&T).
It is an alphabet soup of acronyms, for sure, but Krishna said the intention of the grant award is simple – to explore new realms of infrared camera technologies and set the stage for more advancements decades down the line.
Krishna is a world-leading researcher and innovator in the field of narrow bandgap semiconductors applied to infrared imaging sensors and related technologies.
“I want to make Ohio State the number one research group in this particular area,” Krishna said.
His winning research proposal, “Low Excess-noise Avalanche Photodetectors with Superlattices (LEAPS),” outlines research and development toward high performance short wavelength infrared detectors based on III-V semiconductors designed for manufacturing.
“Infrared detectors are important because they can be used for chemical sensing,” Krishna said. “If you want to find out what is coming out of a factory, or what pollution is coming out of a car. Usually these hydrocarbons have characteristics of nature in the infrared. So, if you send a laser beam and watch it come back, you can see that it’s nitrogen oxide or carbon dioxide, or even methane.”
He said infrared detectors can enhance the ability to see through objects.
“If you are landing a plane in wet and foggy conditions, you can see. If a firefighter or first responder is entering a building, you can see in the infrared beyond what you can see in the visible,” Krishna said.
Infrared technology can also study how heat dissipates from the human body.
“We are currently emitting photons,” he said. “You can use this for not only human detection, but also temperature profiles of human beings. This can be applied for a variety of medical applications, including the early detection of skin cancer.”
Krishna said the list goes on to include medical imaging, corrosion detection and food safety applications.
The final task of their grant award is to train new students to take up the proverbial infrared research baton for generations to come, Krishna said.
The professor said he would like to position Ohio State as one of the only two universities in the United States with the ability to undertake “design to camera” research and development in the infrared field.
Collaborators on the project include the University of Virginia, the MIT Lincoln lab, the University of Illinois, Chicago and industry representative L-3 Cincinnati Electronics.
For more information, contact @OhioStateECE PR Coordinator Ryan Horns at email@example.com, or (937) 844-6043 (cell).