Latest technologies from The University of Arizona
Method of Rapid Nanophotonic Design and a Nanophotonic Waveguide to Fiber Coupler
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 08:34:25 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a rapid design approach for designing nanophotonic devices. The invention is a novel implementation of  an iterative optimal approach related to the known coupled dipole modeling approach. The novel implementation is several orders of magnitude faster than finite difference time domain approaches.


Most current approaches to the design of nanophotonic devices are based on 2D systems and use slow simulation routines such as finite difference time domain (FDTD). While these approaches are suitable for the design of 2D structures using lithographic approaches, they are not well suited for the design of 3D structures.



  • Biological sensing
  • Optical computing
  • Superresolution microscopy
  • Compact waveguide-to-fiber couplers


  • Several orders of magnitude faster than conventional approaches
  • Better performance of 3D nanostructures
Multi-Static/VLBI Imaging Radar for Characterizing Space Objects
Thu, 12 Apr 2018 13:00:47 GMT

This invention is a methodology for using multi-static, long baseline imaging radar for the tracking, imaging and classification of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs).


Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, mankind has progressively added more satellites, and consequently more debris, into Earth's orbit. As of 2013, NASA has tracked over 500,000 pieces of debris larger than the size of an average marble, and this number is constantly increasing. The amount of satellites and debris have posed a problem with the ability to track and image objects, especially those that are small but still problematic because of their high speed. Traditional techniques for tracking these satellites are not sufficient enough to provide high-resolution images, meaning small objects are often missed. The technique presented here will allow researchers and defense agencies to locate space objects and track them in a more timely manner.



  • High resolutions imaging of NEOs
  • Characterization of NEOs 


  • Produces high-resolution images
  • Potential to support improvements to tracking and predicting NEO flight paths
  • Potential to support mitigation of space debris
A Locking Clamp That Enables High Thermal and Vibrational Stability For Kinematic Optical Mounts
Sun, 18 Mar 2018 16:46:47 GMT

This technology is a simple apparatus that reduces the angular drift of an optical mount when subjected to thermal or vibrational perturbations. The novel device provides inexpensive mounts with the ability to achieve <2 μrad/C drift when exposed to unbalanced thermal shock either to one part of the mount itself or to the entire optical system.


Current commercial kinematic optical mounts suffer from instability when exposed to fluctuations in temperature and vibrations. Often, the only way to mitigate the negative effects of such perturbations is through purchasing expensive high-end custom mounts. 



  • Kinematic optical mounts


  • Ease of use
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be used with existing kinematic mounts

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,846,828

White Light Interferometry Imager
Thu, 26 Sep 2019 14:02:12 GMT

This technology is an EDOF system that maintains high lateral resolution while extending the depth of field.  It is based on white light interferometry but adds the feature that the interferometer scans through the different depths of an object to create a depth map.



White light interferometry offers a solution to the age-old trade-off in optics between depth of field and lateral field of view. Using white light interferometry, contrast fringes in interference images appear near zero optical path difference and best focus. By scanning through a range of height positions and integrating the resulting 3D data cube into a final 2D image, one can create a focused, full color 2D object image. However, this process is both data collection and processing intensive. This project proposes a method to reduce both data collection time and the degree of post-processing needed to create a final focused image.


The relative phase between the signal and reference of the interferometer is not taken into account when examining the contrast fringes. The most accurate height measurements with height resolution on the order of 0.5 nanometers are from systems using best focus from contrast fringes and phase-shift data to correlate phase differences to surface height deltas. This project uses the contrast fringes for best focus measurements for height resolution on the order of microns.



  • Optical surface profilers (measurement tools using white light interferometry) are available from a number of optics companies, but data acquisition speeds are on the order of seconds. This project could reduce processing time to a fraction of a second.
  • Currently, interferometric methods are used for ophthalmology but interest is growing in the medical community for non-invasive detailed surface measurement techniques.


  • Leverages existing technology and improves efficiency
  • Faster data collection and less post-processing
  • Could expand use of white light interferometry systems to industrial screening conditions requiring higher inspection rates
High Performance UV Disinfection in a HVAC System with Integrated Concentrator Optics
Thu, 03 Sep 2020 16:01:22 GMT

This invention is an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system that disinfects air through ultraviolet C (UVC) 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, or store can reduce odor, allergens, and pathogens causing infectious diseases. Among the many techniques, UVGI that utilizes UVC light of optimal wavelength in combination with air filters is the most common. 

This UVGI system can operate as standalone or in addition to the existing ventilation system. The configuration can be optimized for high air change per hour (> 10 ach) without sacrificing room comfort and noise level. 

The UVGI market offers a number of commercially available products, ranging from small standalone 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 optimizing 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
A Multi-Functional Three-Dimensional Microscopic System with Structured Illumination and Optical Depth Scanning
Thu, 14 Jul 2022 15:49:24 GMT

This technology is a telecentric microscope design that reconciles the resolution vs. depth of field issues associated with microscope systems. The microscope's design maintains constant system magnification while it performs a depth scan with an electrically controlled vari-focal lens. 


The classic tradeoff between optical resolution and depth of field in microscopy forces a conventional system to take measurements at different depths and then reconstruct three-dimensional data for an extended depth of field (EDOF), a time-consuming process due to the limited speed of mechanical movement and complexity of data extraction.



  • High-performance freeform optics metrology
  • Biomedical imaging


  • Achieves high resolution and depth of field information
  • Supports multiple imaging modalities
  • Addresses the limitations of conventional microdeflectometry and EDOF

Status: issued U.S. patent #10,725,279

Multi-Resolution Foveated Laparoscope
Thu, 14 Jul 2022 15:46:23 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed an optical design for laparoscopes that can obtain wide angle and high magnification images of a surgical area in real time. The two images enable seamless registration between the low and high-resolution images, providing surgeons with the best of both worlds. In addition, the innovation enables flexible adjustment of the probe length and offers spatial resolution more than nine times better than state-of-the art endoscopic imaging technology. 

Current state-of-art laparoscopes suffer from a tradeoff between spatial resolution and field of view (FOV). In order to see fine details of a surgical field, the procedures are usually performed at a highly zoomed-in view. That, in turn, leads to the loss of peripheral vision and awareness of situations occurring outside the immediate focus area of the laparoscope. At present, this limitation is clinically addressed by manually moving the entire laparoscope in and out of the camera port to obtain either close-up or wide-angle views, respectively. This requires a trained assistant to hold, move, and manipulate the camera almost constantly.


  • Real-time high-resolution (40 microns) and wide angle
  • Concurrent dual view capture
  • Reduced time for surgery or inspection


  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Endoscopy, colonoscopy
  • Remote inspection

Status: issued U.S. patent #10,064,545

Interferometric System with Deep Learning Algorithm to Process Two Interferograms
Wed, 03 Nov 2021 16:54:07 GMT

This invention is an interferometric system that captures two interferograms and utilizes a deep learning algorithm to process two interferograms. This invention enables the measurement of surface roughness and surface shape using the interferometric system and neural network to process the data. The deep learning portion of the system is in a compact form allowing for on-machine measurements and a suitable attachment to the interferometric system.

The application of high precision optical elements are vast, from smart-phone camera lenses, telescopes, in addition to optical fibers and much more. With an increase in technological development the needs for high precision optical elements, accurate and efficient fabrication process is highly demanded, placing ultrahigh requirement on the measurement tools to improve workpiece quality control and manage machining process. As a recognized accurate testing method, interferometry has been a powerful method for non-contact surface metrology of optical elements. There are two unique interferometry methods to measure surface form and roughness. Currently the commercial interferometric instruments have a separate procedure to acquire the surface form and roughness measurements. This adds additional costs, time, and fabrication errors to the interferometric process of measurements.


  • Metrology
  • Optical testing and measurement
  • Interferometric systems


  • On-machine deep learning
  • All in one process for surface form and roughness measurements
  • Cost efficient, due to reduced procedure
  • Less fabrication errors potential, due reduced procedure
  • Compact deep learning attachment
Ultra-Sensitive, Selective, and Humidity Resistant Detection of Nitric Oxide
Tue, 09 Jan 2024 11:09:50 GMT

This invention is a Whispering-Gallery Mode (WGM) microtoroidal optical resonator designed for ultra-sensitive detection of nitric oxide gas, achieving remarkable precision with a detection limit as low as 2.34 parts per trillion (ppt). This exceptional sensitivity is achieved through the utilization of ferrocene-containing polymeric coatings created via RAFT polymerization, which enhance selectivity for the target analyte, nitric oxide. The system, known as the Frequency Locked Optical Whispering Evanescent Resonator (FLOWER), tracks the real-time shifts in resonance with sub-femtometer resolution as nitric oxide gas is introduced, allowing for both reversible and irreversible sensing within a concentration range of 6.4 ppt to 240 ppt and even higher concentrations. Notably, the device also exhibits robust resistance to humidity, maintaining its sensing performance effectively up to 47% humidity. The study evaluates the impact of different chemical compositions and molecular weights of the ferrocene-containing polymeric coatings on sensing performance. This invention represents a significant advancement in gas sensing technology, enabling the detection of extremely low concentrations of nitric oxide with high precision and selectivity.

Systems for the selective and rapid detection of gases are important tools used to monitor environmental impacts, occupational safety, and human biomarkers. Nitric oxide is a common byproduct of vehicle exhaust and industrial processes involving combustion, making it a major emission contributing to ozone layer depletion. In addition to its environmental impacts, nitric oxide also serves as an important biomarker of respiratory health associated with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Furthermore, nitric oxide is easily oxidized in air to nitrogen dioxide, which is highly corrosive, toxic, and a danger to human respiratory health. To mitigate injury due to gas exposure and monitor the environmental impacts of industrial processes, selective sensors for nitric oxide detection must be developed and deployed.

Current solutions for nitric oxide detection typically rely on various methods, including chemiluminescence, electrochemical sensors, and optical sensors such as cavity ring-down spectroscopy. However, these methods often struggle to achieve the level of sensitivity and selectivity needed for accurately measuring trace concentrations of nitric oxide in complex environments. This technology is capable of real-time, reversible and irreversible sensing over a wide concentration range while maintaining resistance to humidity, making it a versatile and highly effective tool for nitric oxide detection, surpassing the limitations of traditional detection methods.


  • Nitric oxide detection
  • Industrial safety
  • Occupational safety
  • Environmental impact and research
  • Biomedical research


  • Increased sensitivity 
  • Wide detection range
  • Resistant to humidity
Photothermal Microscopy Using Whispering Gallery Microcavities
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 10:45:23 GMT

This invention uses a photothermal spectroscopy method to detect and identify individual molecules/particles without the use of fluorescent tags or radioactive ligands. Whispering gallery optical sensor technologies are on the cutting edge of biosensing technology. Photothermal microscopy has found applications in diverse fields, including materials science, nanotechnology, biology, and medicine, offering valuable insights into thermal transport phenomena, photothermal interactions, and thermal properties of complex structures. 

Traditional methods of optical microscopy require fluorescent tags and radioactive ligands to detect and identify the molecules or particles being studied. This invention enables the ability to capture both spatial and temporal information, making it a powerful tool for studying thermal dynamics and exploring heat-related phenomena at the micro and nanoscale.


  • Medical diagnostics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Biology 
  • Materials science


  • Label-free imaging
  • High sensitivity and specificity
  • Generative 3D imaging
Thermal Drift Calibration of Whispering Gallery Mode Microcavities using Optical Frequency Domain Reflectometry
Tue, 02 May 2023 11:34:44 GMT

This technology utilizes optical frequency domain reflectometry (OFDR) to collect high resolution temperature measurements in biochemical applications. More specifically, accuracy of measurements is increased in the spatial domain via the OFDR technology being studied in conjunction with whispering gallery mode biochemical sensing. While temperature measurements are currently investigated with a reported temperature uncertainty of 30mK, this same technology could increase the accuracy of other parameters in biochemical sensing. 

Biochemical sensing techniques often have inherent noise within the resultant measurements. This technology that employs Optical Frequency Domain Reflectometry helps to reduce thermal drift noise, thus increasing the accuracy of measurements in biochemical applications. 

Additionally, other current techniques in biochemical settings include systems that employ tagging of specimens. With the studied use of this technology with Whispering Gallery Mode Biochemical Sensing, this is a label-free technique. 

Finally, with the reduced noise capabilities of this technology, resulting temperature measurements have shown increased spatial resolution. It is hypothesized that this accuracy would carry over to other parameter measurements. The technique is also capable of calibrating the microcavities used so that lower levels of detection are possible.


  • Single virus particle detection 
  • Label-free detection 
  • General single particle detection


  • Reduced levels of noise
  • High accuracy measurements 
Techniques for the Rejection of Daylight to Enhance Daytime Satellite Detection
Wed, 10 Feb 2021 10:47:22 GMT

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a new technique that helps reject scattered daylight from the sky to enhance visibility of satellites and space debris during daylight hours. This technology can improve satellite detection and sensitivity in high background environments. The daytime tracking can be used to monitor and maintain custody of high interest objects during the daytime.

The difficulty of detecting satellites during the daytime is well documented due to the brightness and color of the sky, as well as high variability. Previous techniques looked to track satellites during the daytime while utilizing spectral differences between satellites and the sky. The technology presented here seeks to maintain variability and provide higher reliability when tracking high interest objects during the day.


  • Detection and monitoring of satellites and space debris during daylight
  • Daylight space-to-ground laser communications
  • Moonlight suppression
  • Urban astronomy


  • Provides an alternative method for tracking objects during daylight hours
  • Increases capability and reliability
  • Reduces sky noise

Status: issued U.S. patent #10,976,478

Smart Programmable Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation System
Mon, 31 Oct 2022 11:20:28 GMT

This invention is a sanitizer that utilizes UV radiation to sanitize closed rooms. The invention will be able to be programmed and automated to precisely deliver the exact does of UV radiation around the area of interest while also considering safety. The sanitizer will irradiate UV light with multiple beam steering devices to selectively sterilize the different areas in a room. 

The appearance of SARS-CoV-2 in 2019, created a pandemic that resulted in 775,431,269 infections, and a total of 7,047,741 deaths worldwide as of May 2024. The pandemic also led to a large demand for deployable sanitization solutions to eliminate, reduce, and control the viral transmission of the virus. Current UV sanitization solutions tend to be non-programmable, static, and fixed. UV sterilizers that are already on the market that utilize UV lightning as a germicide tend to be imprecise, as their UV radiation system only tend to illuminate different areas indiscriminately and non-uniformly.

Given the current UV lightning sanitization solutions that are currently on the market, there is a high need for a new technology that is both portable and automatic. A new technology that could solve the imprecision, uniformity, and mobility problems could improve the rates of sanitization in work environments, schools, and markets, where a high number of occupants is present in a single room.


  • Healthcare
  • Commerce
  • Enclosed room businesses


  • Portable and precise
  • Minimal user intervention
  • Deliver an exact dose of UV radiation to an area with precision
  • Safer UV radiation-based sanitization system compared to existing systems
Single-Chip Streak Camera and Illumination System
Tue, 23 May 2017 13:23:32 GMT

This invention uses an Angular Spatial Light Modulator (ASLM) in a projection mode, to create a streak camera. With a novel arrangement of illumination and digital micro-mirror devices (DMDs), an "image per angle" system can be created. Angularly sequential images abut one another such that the viewer sees a single continuous image.


Some types of 3D image projection systems place one image on one eye, and an angularly differentiated image of the same scene on the other eye simultaneously. The combined images create a 3D "data cube" to define a frame of an image. The inventors have determined numerous systems and methods for projecting images that comprise a data cube, where each image of the cube is projected in a different angular direction.



  • Streak camera
  • 3D projector
  • Multi-photon illumination sources for microscopes
  • 3D lithography system


  • Much higher angular and spatial modulation rates
  • Faster than conventional streak cameras

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,950,026

Narrow-Linewidth Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Laser
Thu, 05 Apr 2018 14:25:55 GMT

This invention uses a strategic placement of the gain chips, cavity mirrors, and polarization elements to address the thermal management issues and eliminate or mitigate mode hopping issues. With the novel architecture, the lasers can be stabilized to provide mode-hop free operation with a narrow line-width of 10 MHz, thus improving the overall efficiency of such systems.


A major technical challenge in high-power VECSELs is thermal management. The heat dissipated in small volume/area of the semiconductor device must be removed with minimum temperature rise and can require a complex, costly and bulky solution. One approach to manage heat dissipation is to use multiple VECSEL devices in the laser resonator to achieve higher output powers, so that heat dissipation is distributed among multiple devices. However, such multi-device VECSEL configurations suffer from longitudinal mode hopping and standing wave problems. Mode hopping issues can also occur in a single-device VECSEL configuration, where the gain chip is placed at the cavity fold. The invention addresses the thermal management issues and eliminate or mitigate mode hopping issues.



  • Good thermal management
  • Mode-hopping mitigated
  • Narrow line-width
  • High power


  • Guide stars for telescopes
  • Adaptive optics
  • Optical pumping
  • Satellite communications

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,962,127


A Polarized Light Source for the Thermal InfraRed using COTS Wire-Grid Polarizers
Tue, 07 May 2024 11:28:23 GMT

This invention is a thin wire filament that can produce polarized thermal emission when heated. Using commercial off the shelf wire-grid elements, a polarized thermal source with an extended spatial profile can be fabricated. Such a well-characterized polarized source in the thermal infrared can be used for the verification, validation, and in-flight calibration of airborne and space-based thermal polarimeters.

Traditional calibration technologies for polarimeters use either a Sodium light source or a standard quartz crystal designed for the specific application. 


  • Defense and aerospace
  • Mobile communications networks
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Engineering


  • High level of consistency
  • Uses commercial off the shelf elements
  • Can be used in a variety of applications
Method and Apparatus for Snapshot 3D Imaging of Mechanical Structure at Resonance Frequency
Tue, 01 Aug 2023 11:40:53 GMT

This invention is a method and apparatus that can measure the mechanical resonance and mode shape of a mechanical structure. The apparatus can provide important information regarding the structure of an object under different loading and operating conditions. This can help designers and engineers to create a robust mechanical design, to verify the results from their frequency analysis with the final design of the structure, and to monitor change during different operating conditions.

Resonance is a property that is found on all mechanical structures. Resonance can be described as the sensitivity of a mechanical system to a specific vibration frequency (Vogel). Excessive vibrations can cause a mechanical structure to suffer of poor reliability, premature failure, and increased cost of maintenance and parts.

The importance of ensuring and knowing the resonance frequency is high as by knowing at what frequencies a mechanical structure starts to oscillate at its maximum amplitude can ensure that the structure’s functionality, performance, and lifecycle (Blatter). The invention aims to measure the mechanical resonance and mode shapes of a mechanical structure to prevent any possible issues in the structure.


  • Imaging of mechanical structures
  • Design validation from analysis
  • Process monitoring in a manufacturing environment


  • Can be used in a manufacturing environment
  • Gives direct feedback of a mechanical structure under different loading and operating conditions
Scattering Based Light Sheet Microscope
Tue, 02 Apr 2024 13:20:31 GMT

This invention relates to designs of a low-cost scattering-based light sheet microscope that provides microscopic images of human tissue in vivo. The key idea is to use an incoherent line light source with a rectangular aperture to generate light sheet illumination and detect the scattered light from the illuminated tissue plane to generate images. The use of line illumination and rectangular aperture provides a small illumination light sheet width over a large field of view, while reducing the speckle noise and shadow artifacts.

This innovative approach towards the design of this microscope promises enhanced clarity and precision in imaging. Given its affordability, this invention is poised to revolutionize diagnostic procedures in various medical settings, especially in regions with limited access to advanced medical equipment.

Light sheet microscopy (LSM) is a relatively new microscopy technology used in basic life science research. LSM uses separate optical paths for illumination and detection, where the illumination optics determine the axial resolution, and the detection optics determine the lateral resolution. This invention can be used to develop low-cost, small form-factor light sheet microscopy devices for diagnosing diseases of human internal organs in vivo and freshly excised specimens ex vivo, including anus, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and colon. The microscope device can be used in a wide range of clinical settings (including primary-care clinics, surgical suites, and under-resourced remote hospitals without pathology services), as well as for training and educational purposes.

Furthermore, the advancements in LSM technology, combined with the unique features of this invention, present a transformative opportunity. The potential to deliver high-resolution imaging at a fraction of the cost of current technologies can significantly improve early disease detection and provide essential insights into cellular dynamics and structures.


  • Microscopy
  • Tomography
  • Microbiology
  • Life science research


  • Reduction of speckle noise
  • Reduction of shadow artifacts
  • Use in a wide range of clinical settings
  • Cost effective
  • Supports early disease detection for improved health outcomes
Novel High Refractive Index and Abbie Value Polymers for Advanced Lower Cost Optical Eyewear
Wed, 15 Sep 2021 11:17:20 GMT

Copolymerization of chalcogenide halides with widely available unsaturated monomers is used to create advanced polymer materials for consumer plastic optics, consumer eye wear, and smart phone plastic optics. 

Sulfenyl chlorides are a widely known but largely ignored class of sulfur compounds that are highly reactive toward nucleophiles and electrophilic unsaturated compounds.  Sulfenyl chlorides are closely related to organosulfur thiol and mercaptan molecules were the R-S-H bond is replaced via chlorination reactions to form the R-S-Cl, which is constitutes the sulfenyl chloride moiety.  The S-Cl functional group is dipolar covalent in nature and can be considered a strong electrophile for attack by nucleophilic compoudnds such as, alcohols/alkoxides, Grignard reagents, organolithium reagents to form various organodisulfide compounds. 

The inventors have developed novel polymers focusing on the electrophilic addition of (organo)sulfenyl chlorides to unsaturated compounds, which primarily comprise of alkenyl and alkynyl molecules such as vinylics, styrenics, acrylates, allylics, cyclic olefins, and both internal and terminal alkynes. 


  • Lenses with high Abbie number and high refractive index
  • Consumer optical plastics
  • Smartphone or technology optical plastics
  • Applications to microscope or telescope lenses


  • Improved performance and reduced cost compared to polycarbonate lenses
  • Solution or melt processing
  • Moderate temperature processing
  • Proton-free formation with no fluorination
Photo-Magnetically Actuated Deformable Mirror
Thu, 15 Apr 2021 15:39:54 GMT

This technology is a flexible deformable mirror and wireless actuator using a combination of light and magnetic components, to enable large and small scale deformations.

Deformable mirrors (DMs) are special mirrors designed to be deformed to provide optical aberration correction in high performance optical systems. These mirrors are particularly useful in astronomy and retinal imaging where image quality needs to be maximized at high magnifications, as well as in control and shaping of laser beams.

Traditional DMs use an array of actuators behind the mirror which deform the mirror when electricity is applied to the actuators. This approach requires many, often high-voltage, electrical connections. This technology, on the other hand, deforms the mirror wirelessly, simplifying the design while simultaneously allowing large amounts of deformation and precise control.


  • Adaptive optics
  • Telescopes, especially space telescopes
  • Retinal imaging
  • Laser beam focusing and correction


  • Simple; requires fewer components than other deformable mirrors
  • Provides both large-scale, course correction and small-scale, precise correction in one package
  • Works well in a vacuum
  • Reliable