Colorado State University announced today that its Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering received a high-tech equipment donation from Veeco Instruments of Fort Collins worth $1.5 million, the largest gift to the engineering college in three years. The state-of-the-art equipment will allow the department to enhance its prominent soft X-ray and optoelectronic research programs.
The SPECTOR ion beam deposition system is regarded as the industry leader in the thin-film deposition of narrowband filters for optical communications. The optical coating system produces low-loss mirrors for lasers and other tailored ultra-thin coatings for fiber communications applications that are integral parts of fiber optic network systems used to transmit telephone signals throughout the world.
"It is like assembling an onion with very thin layers of different materials," said Carmen Menoni, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Colorado State. "With this technology, we can develop custom optical elements that reflect or transmit light in selective regions of the optical spectrum and therefore have the potential of greatly enhancing the performance of our laser systems."
The SPECTOR will be used by collaborating scientists at Colorado State and the University of Colorado to further advance both schools’ world-renowned research.
Colorado State professors Carmen Menoni and Jorge Rocca, along with CU professors Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn, will use the system to engineer custom optics for soft X-ray lasers and high-order harmonic sources, and for the implementation of imaging and surface analysis systems at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. This research will lead to the development of a microscope with the unsurpassed capability to image nanometer-scale features such as the tiny components in computer chips. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter. Colorado State professors Carl Wilmsen and Kevin Lear will use the system to develop sensor structures for bio-photonic applications.
"This gift will greatly enhance our research infrastructure and undoubtedly will impact the educational experience of graduate and undergraduate students," said Menoni. "This donation will further strengthen ongoing collaboration efforts between the university and Veeco Instruments, which are presently funded by the Colorado Photonics Program and sponsored by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education."
According to Derek Lile, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Colorado State, the in-house ability to grow and characterize multilayer structures significantly enhances the educational experience of students as well as increases the schools’ competitiveness in securing federal research grants.
"The novel applications that researchers will have the ability to explore along with the opportunities for hands-on experience that students will acquire on the use of this cutting-edge equipment are assets that will expand and create new markets for the technology and potentially bring more money into the state’s economy by creating new businesses," said Lile. "This gift is an outstanding example of local industry and the university working together to benefit an entire community."