Latest technologies from The University of Arizona
Process to Fabricate Micro-Polarizers and Waveplates on Sensor Array
Wed, 03 Nov 2010 09:08:28 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a fabrication process to create patterned polarizers for various visible wavelengths using dichroic dye in a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) host directly on an array of optical sensors. This invention uses  multiple layers of an LPP/LCP system to create more complex polarization elements such as color circular polarizers, waveplates of arbitrary retardance, and linear and circular polarizers. The process is simple and inexpensive compared to other micropolarizer systems.


Patterned polarizers have a variety of applications in polarimetry, interferometry, three dimensional displays, and optical data storage. Wire-grid polarizers are by far the most common commercial products for infrared applications; however, micropatterned wire-grid polarizers have limited spatial resolution and poor performance at visible wavelengths, require complicated lithographic processing, are susceptible to defects and cannot be easily extended to non-linear polarizations. An alternative is the photo alignment of absorbing materials which can produce micron sized polarizers of high efficiency and extinction for ultra violet (UV), visible, and near infrared (NIR) wavelengths. While smaller resolution alignment has been demonstrated, it is impractical for large areas.


  • The process can produce waveplates of arbitratry retardance, linear and circular polarizers
  • The process is simple and inexpensive compared to other micropolarizer systems


  • Fabricate micro-polarizers and waveplates on optical filters and on sensor arrays
  • Waveplates and polarizers for optical array sensors include CCD and CMOS
  • Three dimensional displays, interferometry, optical storage, polarimeters, cameras

Status: issued U.S. patent #8,866,997

High-Throughput Manufacturing for PIC Polymer Waveguide using Multiple Exposures
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 13:10:27 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a method of fabricating polymer waveguides in polymer films to form the interconnections between optical devices such as PICs to other PICs and Optical Printed Circuit Boards (OPCBs). 



An important problem in optical packaging involves the optical interconnection (chip-chip connections) of planar-integrated photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and the connection of such circuits to the external world. PICs allow systems with high complexity and multiple functions to be integrated on a single substrate to allow the generation, detection, propagation and modulation of both optical and electrical signals.  But the optical components are made of materials that are not particularly compatible with materials for electronic components.



  • By-passes incompatibility issues between optical materials and electronic materials
  • Uses off-the self polymer materials



  • Fabrication of integrated opto-electronic components
  • Telecommunications
  • Fiber laser manufacturing

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,454,759

Micro-Scale Concentrated Photovoltaic Module
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:44:12 GMT

This technology is a thin photovoltaic module that concentrates direct and diffuse sunlight onto each individual solar cell, which increases the efficiency. The concentrator lenses are designed to reduce tracking requirements, making these solar panels ideal for spaces requiring small footprints, such as buildings in dense urban areas. The design also includes a clever means of reducing the PV cell size under each lens so that the cells cool more efficiently.


Achieving concentration of sunlight onto photovoltaic cells in a small form factor has been a challenge.  Additionally, gathering light at large angles of incidence, to include diffuse radiation, can improve the collection efficiency by as much as 25%. However, getting both of these features into a thin form factor has not yet been achieved.


  • Small, lightweight solar panels
  • Cheaper solar panels
  • Greater efficiency for light collection


  • Solar panels
  • OLED illumination
  • Focused light for greater power in electronic devices

Status: issued U.S. patents #10,505,059, #11,056,599, and #11,456,394

UA21-024 High Performance UV Disinfection in a HVAC System with Integrated Concentrator Optics In Part marketing
Thu, 03 Sep 2020 16:01:22 GMT

This invention is an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system that disinfects air through ultraviolet C radiation. The system has low power consumption and high sterilization and flow rate to both neutralize airborne pathogens and filter all the air inside a room quickly without disturbing the environment inside the room.

Removal or neutralization of airborne pathogens from air inside a hospital, classroom, restaurant, nursing home and store can reduce odor, allergens and pathogens causing infectious diseases. Disinfection can be carried out in a variety of ways, including air filters, alternating electrostatic fields, ozone, or ultraviolet radiation. Among the many techniques, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) which utilizes ultraviolet C (UVC) light of optimal wavelength in combination with air filters is the most common.

This UVGI system can operate as standalone or addition to existing ventilation system. The configuration can be optimized for high air change per hour (> 10 ach) without sacrificing room comfort and noise level. The optical cavity in non-imaging configuration is optimized for low stray light, large overlap between air flow and light distribution in addition to high UVC dosage for disinfection.

The UVGI market offers a number of commercially available products, ranging from small stand alone units for sterilization of individual rooms to large scale screening of industrial HVAC units. However, many products rely on existing air flow systems rather than optimize air flow and sterilization in an integrated system.


  • Healthcare air disinfection
  • HVAC ultraviolet germicidal irradiation


  • Efficient
  • High air change rate
  • Adaptable to different room size and shape
  • Effective
  • Improved performance over existing systems
Enhanced Magneto-Optic Properties Using Polymer-Coated Magnetite Nanoparticles
Tue, 22 Jun 2021 13:01:33 GMT

Researchers at The University of Arizona's James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences have developed a two-step process for creating Magneto-optical (MO) nanocomposites. First it forms a polymer shell on magnetite-nanoparticles though a surface polymerization process. It then chemically links the shell of each magnetite-nanoparticle to a host polymer matrix to embed the nanoparticles. The polymer shells on such particles prevent the nanoparticles from forming agglomerates and can be used to obtain and/or preserve a particular size dispersion of the nanoparticles. The resulting MO composite materials have a large MO response with tunable properties and can be readily processed to form useful devices.


Magneto-optical (MO) nanocomposites are a special subclass of nanocomposites that are capable of exhibiting strong magneto-optical behavior. These materials consist of magnetic nanoparticles that are embedded in, suspended in, or otherwise structurally associated with a “host material,” such as an organic polymer. It has been shown that the MO effect of such materials depends on both nanoparticle density and uniformity, but nanoparticle clustering, a common fabrication defect, often causes the MO effect to be significantly reduced. Thus, there is a need to improve the methods for producing nanocomposites, including MO nanocomposites, to reduce unwanted aggregations and/or clusters of the nanoparticles while still allowing controllable nanoparticle spacing and size for tuning nanocomposite properties.


  • Magneto-optic isolators, modulators or switches
  • High-sensitivity magnetic field sensors
  • Magnetic data storage media
  • Integrable optical isolators, polarizers and rotators


  • Enhanced tunable magneto-optical properties
  • Composite material can be readily fabricated

Status: issued U.S. patents #9,011,710 and #9,378,880

Method and Apparatus for In-Line Photoacoustic Imaging
Mon, 11 Jan 2021 14:52:03 GMT

This technology is an optical system consisting of a right angle prism, or thin parallel plate, in conjunction with water, an index matching fluid, or some other liquid, that completely reflects acoustic waves to and from an array ultrasound transducer while being optically transparent. The geometry allows simultaneous direct illumination, with high-energy laser pulses, of the region imaged by the ultrasound transducer array.  This extends the existing capabilities of an ultrasound transducer with the ability to acquire photoacoustic data.

This device addresses the challenge of illuminating thick samples with relatively large transducer arrays impeding the direct illumination of the imaging area. This is the first known method of directly illuminating thick media for imaging with array transducers without redirecting the light around the transducer or custom designing the transducer.

The photoacoustic effect is a conversion between light and acoustic waves due to absorption and localized thermal excitation. When rapid pulses of light are incident on a sample of matter, they can be absorbed and the resulting energy will then be radiated as heat. This heat causes detectable sound waves due to pressure variation in the surrounding medium.


  • Simple design
  • Potentially enables the development of low cost photoacoustic probes built upon existing ultrasound probes
  • Simplifies setup for medical imaging and biomedical research


  • Medical diagnostic applications, potentially ranging from cancer detection to aiding in the early diagnosis of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s

Status: issued U.S. Patent #8,879,352 - Ultrasonic/photoacoustic imaging devices and methods and U.S. Patent #10,241,199 - Ultrasonic/photoacoustic imaging devices and methods

Control of Probe Beam Duration in Single Wavelength Monitoring of Hologram Diffraction Efficiency
Wed, 03 Nov 2021 16:32:19 GMT

This technology is a novel technique for monitoring the diffraction efficiency of Volume Holographic Elements (VHOEs) in real time. The technique works by using a shutter or chopper to periodically block one of the exposing beams during the fabrication and measuring the power of the diffracted beam using a power meter. This technique has the potential for a higher accuracy calculation of the diffraction efficiency of VHOEs at a greater simplicity.

Volume Holographic Elements (VHOEs) have many applications ranging from display systems, medical devices, and solar energy systems. An important characteristic of VHOEs is diffraction efficiency, which measures how much power is diffracted into a designated direction compared to the power incident onto the diffractive element. Most VHOEs much attain a certain diffraction efficiency; in many designs, the diffraction efficiency should be maximized while in others, the diffraction efficiency is intentionally a lower value. The most common method of controlling the diffraction efficiency is to characterize the holographic material’s diffraction efficiency as a function of exposure energy by fabricating a set of holograms with different exposure energies and measuring the diffraction efficiency of each, with the hologram most closely matching the design constraint used to fabricate the desired VHOE. Another method uses additional equipment and complicated experimental setups to measure the diffraction efficiency by shining light from a separate laser at the construction wavelength from the VHOE. This technique, which works by using a shutter or chopper to periodically block one of the exposing beams during the fabrication and measuring the power of the diffracted beam using a power meter, can calculate the diffraction efficiency at a higher accuracy at a greater simplicity. The calculations are performed in real time, meaning the technique has the potential to account for local variations in the material or laser power that causes the necessary exposure time to fluctuate between samples, which allows for a more precise reading of the diffraction efficiency. This technique is particularly useful for VHOEs used in display systems where precise diffusion efficiency needs to be attained.


  • Precisely calculates the diffusion efficiency of VHOEs


  • More precise that current methods
  • Less additional equipment is needed
Pink Blue Blockers
Wed, 03 Nov 2021 17:08:27 GMT

This invention uses pink lenses as an efficient way to block blue light while appealing to younger users and those who have a difficult time wearing the more visually cumbersome orange or red lenses. The use of blue light blocking glasses have recently become more popular for the general public because an increasing number of individuals spend a majority of their day looking at screens. The most effective lenses at blocking blue lightred and orange lensesare difficult to wear and are not aesthetically appealing to younger users.

Currently, most blue light blocking technology in glasses is manifest in four different colors: clear (to the extent clear is a color), yellow, orange, and redthe darker the color, the greater the ability of the lenses to block blue light. Orange and red are worn by users to promote healthy sleep habits. This is especially important because blue light suppresses the generation of melatonin. Therefore, the logic goes, the use of strong blue light suppression glasses allows the user two benefits: (1) Continuing use of devices that may be necessary for work or entertainment; and (2) Generating melatonin at normal levels and allowing for normal sleep patterns. Furthermore, blue light puts a great strain on the eyes of those who constantly look at blue light, which is no small percentage of the population.


  • Bolstering circadian rhythm
  • Blocking excessive blue light


  • Stylish
  • More effective than clear lenses
Fast Volumetric Imaging of Fluorescent Tissue Structures and Activities
Thu, 14 Jul 2022 15:50:18 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a novel microscope imaging technique that generates high-resolution large-volume 3D images of tissue at subcellular resolution, and captures transient activities within the volume at 100 volume frames per second (vps). The invention breaks away from the traditional plane-scanning approach and implements volumetric projection imaging instead.



In order to study complex dynamics of tissue in live animals, ideally the microscope needs to maintain the sub-micron resolution in deep tissue to resolve activities in subcellular structures, cover a large volume to analyze complex networks, and refresh the volumetric image at high speed to capture transient dynamics.  However, despite many processes, at present there are no known microscopic techniques that fully satisfy the need for resolution, penetration, volume and speed.



  • Fast 3D subcellular imaging for organs, tissues, and other body parts


  • Intrinsic high 3D resolution
  • Simplified image processing
  • Faster frame rates; can accommodate movement in sample
  • Large image area/field of view
  • Twice the photon sensitivity for increased photon efficiency
Kinematically Engaged Yoke System
Thu, 14 Jul 2022 14:31:05 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have designed a paradigm-shifting space telescope technology. The technology produces ultra-lightweight, transmissive lenses that are fabricated economically in segments. The novel aspects of the technology facilitate quick assembly with very high precision alignment.


Improvements in space telescope technology are needed. For example, mirror systems may be heavy, costly, and may comprise transmission loss and reduction in light throughput. Also, segmented mirror system has very sensitive alignment and assembly tolerance, which increases the overall system complexity and budget.



  • Quick assembly
  • Excellent alignment among segments
  • Lightweight
  • Very large aperture


  • Space-based astronomy
  • Ground-based astronomy

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,204,509

Polarization State Scrambler Using Birefringent Phase Mask
Thu, 14 Jul 2022 15:55:01 GMT

A University of Arizona researcher has designed a device to efficiently convert partially polarized and polarized light into light having randomly distributed polarizations, or more generally, into output light having a plurality of polarizations. The passive device provides almost instantaneous conversion of polarization, as opposed to the current methods which use a modulator that requires a signal generator and drive electronics. The novel device will be very useful for telecom, imaging, and illumination.


In fiber optic communication systems, light signals are highly sensitive to polarization impairments such as polarization mode dispersion and polarization dependent loss. Lithium Niobate (LiNbO3) scramblers, which operate as a tunable waveplate that modulates the polarization state of light, are often utilized to mitigate some of the problems by converting a fixed incoming polarized light into random or pseudo-random polarized light at different times. In telecommunications, the scrambling rate should be faster than the inverse gain recovery time of the fiber amplifier. The scrambler should have low cost, low wavelength and temperature sensitivity and long lifetime.



  • Passive - no power required
  • Nearly instantaneous scrambling of polarization
  • Easy to reproduce in high volumes


  • Telecommunications
  • Imaging
  • Illumination

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,067,837

Fabrication of Polymer Waveguide Interconnect Between Chips with a Gap/Step using Flexible Polymer Dry Film Resist for Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs)
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 13:10:57 GMT

This technology describes a new method to form a stable physical barrier between chips within a photonic integrated circuit (PIC), utilizing polymer dry film negative resist. The technique enables the  fabrication of polymer waveguide interconnects.



The current standard of applying polymer dry film resists works well for a single chip However, when there is a gap or step between two chips, the resist can break at the gap/step upon removing the backing.



  • Fabrication of polymer waveguide interconnects
  • Potential for use in creating PICs



  • Flexible
  • Provides a physical barrier for waveguides
  • Keep dry film intact

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,275,208

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 09:16:26 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have designed a microspectrometer that is very compact and directly interfaces with CMOS sensors; reducing the form factor greatly compared to current micro-spectrometer technology. The microspectrometer is 3D printable, thus reducing the cost of manufacturing to under $100 per unit.


There is an abundance of spectrometer technology, for various spectroscopic applications. Although micro-spectrometers have been developed for specialized markets such as the Department of Defense and astronomical applications, those systems are relatively expensive. There is a a need and strategic opportunity to produce smaller, cheaper micro spectrometers within the commercial, energy and medical industries.



  • Compact
  • Low-cost
  • Can be attached to the sensor directly
  • 3D printable
  • Can be embedded in smart phone


  • Gas analysis in hospitals
  • Characterization of proteins
  • Near infrared spectroscopy for oil drilling
  • Spectroscopy for astronomical observations
  • Terrestrial atmospheric gas composition analysis
  • Monitoring dissolved oxygen content in freshwater and marine ecosystems

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,193,824

Birefringent Coating to Remove Polarization Dependent Phase Shift
Wed, 03 Nov 2021 13:27:01 GMT

This technology is a method designed to remove unwanted phase shifts from optical instruments to improve their performance. The method involves the manufacture and application of a layer, or multiple layers, of birefringent materials (materials with two distinct refractive indices) such that the unwanted phase shift is removed from the optical instrument.

Optical interference filters have been around and known for a century, and these filters have been effectively exploited technologically for at least several decades. Additionally, birefringent materials have been, and continue to be used in optics to produce various results such as, producing polarizing prisms, interference colors, and retarder plates. Because of their unique properties, birefringent materials play a large role in optical systems.

This technology is more than simply using birefringent materials to reduce polarization aberration in an optical system. This is a method for determining the thickness and angle of a birefringent material to optimize the performance of an optical system by removing any phase shift in the system, what the authors call “parasitic retardance.”  The birefringent material can be applied to an interference filter, or be placed on a different substrate allowing for more customization by placing the birefringent material anywhere in the optical path.


  • Optical systems
  • Polarized light


  • Optimize and improve performance of optical systems
  • Customizable
Curved Combiner
Wed, 18 Mar 2020 11:30:12 GMT

The Curved Combiner is an improvement on flat waveguide head-up (i.e. windshields) and near to eye displays (i.e. glasses). The curved nature of the invention allows for image expansion and aesthetically pleasing hardware to be used in a diversified set of applications. The invention contains three holograms to redirect or expand the light that passes through the curved waveguide. Each hologram has a different function to ensure that the image has no aberrations which can occur when using curved waveguides.

Waveguides are currently being produced using flat glass pieces. The advantage of flat waveguides is the small chance of image aberrations when injecting an image through the waveguide. However, flat waveguides limit the opportunity for image expansion and real-world applications. Current systems are bulky and limit integration capabilities. To address this issue, the present invention describes a curvature of the waveguide. The curvature allows the invention to be integrated into more modern applications.


  • Car windshields
  • Modern glasses
  • Airplane canopies
  • Ticket counters
  • Smart windows
  • Doors of ovens, refrigerators, & freezers
  • Helmets
  • Contact lenses
  • Augmented Reality
  • Retail store window


  • Image expansion
  • Curvature capability of screen
  • Designability
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Increased comfort for viewer
  • Elimination of image distortion and aberrations in current waveguides 

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,333,893

Snapshot Spatial Heterodyne Imaging Polarimetry
Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:17:50 GMT

A real time imaging Stokes polarimeter that is able to render the full linear polarization profile of a scene without the need for computational support has been designed the University of Arizona. This polarization imaging is achieved through an advanced optical design that requires no moving parts. It uses the full spectral content of a scene to form a polarization image. Electronically active components such as CCD’s or phosphorescent screens can be implemented to enable video capture or snapshot imaging, but such is not a requirement. This allows the technology to be implemented in both active and passive optical setups. Also, the design is adaptable for handheld use, making it an excellent candidate for utility grade implementation in any environment where polarimetric imaging is needed.


In any given scene, a wealth of hidden information can be unveiled through polarization imaging. Polarimeters can be used to evaluate large regions of material or terrain for materials inspection or target identification. The ability to acquire this information quickly allows this modality to be used in scenes that change quickly in time, and many types of polarimeters have been designed to accomplish this goal. However, few are able to render the polarization information without computer control. Either image post-processing is required, or advanced control of optical components is needed. The ability to render polarization information from a scene without the assistance of a computer implies a design that has no moving parts and that can be implemented passively. Such technology would enable the adaptation of polarimetric imaging to many forms ranging from microscopes to rifle scopes. Furthermore, capturing this information across a wide spectral band would provide an ideal polarimeter that is capable of making full use of the spectral content within a scene.


  • Fast rendering of polarization information in a scene
  • Image post processing not needed
  • Full spectral content of the scene is analyzed
  • Design adaptable for handheld use
  • Does not require computational support


  • Real time polarization imaging
  • Industrial process monitoring
  • Defense and security
Digital Fringe Projection and Multi-Spectral Polarization Imaging for Rapid 3D Reconstruction
Thu, 14 Jul 2022 15:57:29 GMT

This invention embodies methods, devices and systems that utilizes Digital Fringe Projection (DFP) to generate three dimensional (3D) images of an object based on measurement of polarizations and/or color light in a single shot. Unlike conventional techniques, which require sequential measurements, the novel systems acquire high dynamic range information in a single shot and can be applied to rapidly changing scenes and objects. It's fast, portable, compact, and has low power consumption.



Three dimensional (3D) imaging techniques have applications in industrial metrology, virtual and augmented reality, remote sensing, medical diagnostic, biometrics and homeland security. To achieve 3D imaging, existing techniques, such as light detection and ranging (LIDAR), stereovision, light field or plenoptics imaging, structured light illumination and digital fringe projection (DFP), have been developed. However, LIDAR, structured light illumination and DFP often require scanning and acquisition of multiple frames. Stereovision requires more than one camera at different locations to provide accuracy. Plenoptics imaging requires complex algorithms and computation hardware for 3D reconstruction; in addition, the spatial resolution is reduced.



  • Industrial metrology
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Medical diagnostics, biometrics
  • Homeland security
  • Remote sensing


  • Efficient/rapid ease-of-use
  • Requires only a single frame capture
  • Fast, compact, with high dynamic range
  • Provides information about material characteristics
Snapshot Interferometer for Surface Profile and Roughness
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 12:42:46 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have designed an instrument that can take a "snapshot" of a surface's profile and roughness simultaneously. The non-contact metrology tool is high speed with high sensitivity, precision, and resolution. It can be used with a variety of light sources across various applications.


Metrology is an integral part of the automated manufacturing process. As new processes become automated, new technology must be developed to handle the imaging of more complex parts quickly, while being low-cost, scalable and, in many cases, portable. Instruments exist to measure either surface profile or surface roughness, but it would be more cost efficient to have a single instrument which could do both.



  • Form measuring machines
  • Surface roughness measurement
  • Contour measuring tools
  • Roundness measurement
  • Portable metrology
  • In line metrology


  • Captures the profile and roughness in one take
  • Reduces imaging processing time
  • Longer coherence lengths than traditional light sources
  • Has multiple embodiments allowing for different applications

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,274,915

Silicon Photonic Devices With Tunable Temperature Dependence
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 13:06:03 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed an athermal multichannel optical add-drop multiplexer (OADM) which is based on silicon microring resonators. Using a means of controlling the thermo-optic coefficient of certain materials, the researchers have reduced the temperature dependent wavelength shifts to achieve athermal condition for various waveguide structures.


The emergence of social media, video streaming, online gaming, and IOT has led to significant increase in demand for data transfer and file sharing. Datacenter and high performance computing are struggling to keep up because of thermal management challenges and limitations from electrical interconnects. The transition to photonic devices would provide reliability, low cost, and increased functionality and support higher bandwidth, denser interconnects, reduced crosstalk and more advantages. However, with a silicon photonics platform, silicon's thermo-optic coefficient can limit the application of these devices where large temperature changes are experienced.



  • Reduced thermal shifts for waveguides
  • Minimal alteration to known materials
  • Wide variety of athermal optical devices can be fabricated



  • Individual waveguide fabrication
  • Complex optical waveguide circuits
  • Telecommunications
  • Data centers

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,163,113

Integrated Optical I/O Port Combiner
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 13:12:17 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have designed a polarization splitter rotator (PSR) that enables use of a single optical port for input and output signals simultaneously. This allows the output ports to connect to a wider variety of components and frees up other I/O ports for additional functions, or reduces the number of optical I/O ports required on a photonic integrated circuit.

Polarization splitter rotators (PSR) are used to separate the different polarization states of a beam of light entering the input port of the rotator, into different output ports on a photonic integrated circuit (PIC). These are generally used in one direction only, and lack efficiency.


  • Reduces the required number of optical I/O ports (or roughly doubles the number of available I/O ports)
  • Increases the utilization of the capacity available on the chip
  • Eliminates cross-talk and Bragg grating effect



  • Photonic integrated circuits (PICs)
  • Telecommunications

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,391,896