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News Archive 2001 - 2010

UTA Researchers to Create Improved Electro-Optic Devices

February 15, 2002

Fiber-optic cable may speed the transmission of information, but switching and processing integrated circuits using existing technology at the cable ends often slow the signals. Two separate but related research projects underway at The University of Texas at Arlington will provide vast improvements in optical device fabrication, operation, durability and cost.

Associate Dean of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering Theresa Maldonado is a co-investigator on both projects. She is teaming with Electrical Engineering Professor Robert Magnusson to develop nanostructured photonic devices with nonlinear organic materials. The organic materials are systematically arranged, layer upon layer, to create desired properties for controlling and guiding light in dielectric (glass-like) as well as semiconductor films. Resulting products could be in the form of tunable wavelength converters, low-voltage electro-optic modulators and optical switching devices used in telecommunications operations.

In the second project, Dr. Maldonado is teaming with Dr. Martin Pomerantz, professor of organic and polymer chemistry in UTA's College of Science. They are designing a fabrication process that will quickly and economically produce the polymeric thin films incorporated in the devices described above. Utilizing a process called ionic self-assembled monolayer technique, a robot system will create thin film structures with tailored optical properties using nanoscale materials designed and synthesized at UTA. A unique feature of the project is that high school, under-graduate and graduate students along with postdoctoral researchers will be involved in the preparation and study of the polymers and thin films, the use of the robot system and the characterization of the structures.

Both projects are being funded through grants totaling $446,000 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as part of its efforts to develop and distribute advanced technologies within the state.