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Release: Oct. 26, 2001

UI researchers receive $320,000 Air Force grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two University of Iowa researchers have received a two-year, $320,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories to study materials currently used in monitoring devices which may be useful in detecting the presence of air pollutants and chemical warfare agents.

Thomas Boggess, professor and chair of the department of physics and astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, and Michael Flatté, associate professor in the department of physics and astronomy, received the award to investigate novel semiconductor materials used in the design of mid-infrared lasers. Both researchers are members of the UI Optical Science and Technology Center, and the studies will be performed in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories Building.

Boggess says that the goal is to improve laser power, efficiency, and operating temperature by conducting theoretical and experimental studies of the semiconductors used in mid-infrared lasers.

"Here at the University of Iowa, layered semiconductors made from the elements aluminum, indium, gallium, arsenic, and antimony are used in very unusual lasers," Boggess says. "These lasers emit infrared light with colors beyond red, colors that people cannot see. Some colors of this laser light will interact strongly with pollutants and hazardous chemicals, and therefore these lasers are expected to be important tools for sensing the presence of pollutants and chemical warfare agents."

The research, involving microscopic devices and materials collectively referred to as nanotechnology, will be conducted in collaboration with Texas A&M University, MIT Lincoln Laboratories, and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M.