Sasan Fathpour, an assistant professor in UCF’s College of Optics & Photonics, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his work integrating devices such as laser beam combiners and optical amplifiers on small chips about the width of a staple.

This is Fathpour’s third NSF Award, but Dean Bahaa Saleh said the CAREER Award is the foundation’s most prestigious recognition in support of junior faculty members.

Fathpour’s prize-winning research, Mid-Infrared Photonic Devices and Integrated Circuits on Silicon, involves working with wavelengths beyond visible light that can interact with interesting molecular vibrations of organic materials.  One distinction in his study is that the base of silicon chips he works with is made of sapphire, which is a difficult process but very rewarding for achieving miniaturized devices.

“Silicon on sapphire is a new platform for photonic engineering,” he said. “These are very exotic wafers.”

Someday the photonics research may prove valuable in laser medicine applications such as ophthalmic microsurgery, facial surgery, and tooth cleaning, as well as in biochemical sensing and optical ranging,  he said.

The NSF award is for $400,000 over five years.

Fathpour has been at UCF three  years, and he started working on this project two years ago. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.