NEWS | April 19, 2011

Dr. Igor Vurgaftman Selected OSA Fellow

By Dom Panciarelli

Dr. Igor Vurgaftman , a research scientist of the Optical Sciences Division at the Naval Research Laboratory, has been selected a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He is recognized for significant contributions to the conception, design, simulation, and understanding of novel semi-conductor devices such as the inter-band cascade laser.

The nomination prepared by Dr. Jerry Meyer of NRL's Optical Sciences Division notes Vurgaftman substantially influenced the development of novel semi-conductor opto-electronic devices for the infrared. He invented important new concepts, optimized numerous designs, and used his advanced modeling and analysis expertise to enhance the understanding of experimental data.

It is reported that Vurgaftman's greatest impact has been on the design and simulation of mid-wave IR semi-conductor lasers, such as the inter-band cascade laser (ICL), the quantum cascade laser, W diode laser, and the dilute-nitride W laser. His ICL design innovations (two patents pending, and a third in preparation) enabled his group to be the first in the world to operate a diode laser in its wavelength range at room temperature, notes Meyer. This and other advances have established NRL ICL's as the leading semi-conductor source technology for the important l = 3-4 mm spectral band. Vurgaftman's refinements also enabled distributed-feedback ICL's to emit 10-45 mW into a narrow spectral line, a capability presently being viewed as a basis for spectroscopically sensing methane leaks, monitoring greenhouse gases, and possibly detecting chemical/biological threats.

Vurgftman's other key achievements include a novel graded-gap design for type-II super-lattice IR photo-detectors and an innovative class of two-dimensional photonic crystal distributed-feedback lasers with edge and surface emission. His two highly-influential analyses and compilations of band structure parameters for III-V semiconductors are now standard references within the semi-conductor modeling and device communities. The first of these, published in 2001, is already the 10th most cited publication by any NRL author, concluded Meyer.

Vurgaftman received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude, in computer engineering in 1991 from Boston University; his master's degree and doctorate in electrical engineering in 1993 and 1995 respectively, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Vurgaftman has worked at NRL since 1995. He has investigated mid-infrared lasers based on interband and intersubband transitions, methods of maintaining optical coherence in large-area semiconductor lasers, type-II super-lattice photo-detectors, coherent sources of surface plasmons, and spintronic optical and electronic devices, among other topics. His 2001 review of the band parameters for III-V semiconductors has been cited over 1500 times.

He is the author of more than 200-refereed articles in technical journals, numerous contributed and invited talks at professional conferences, as well as 12 patents.

Vurgaftman's numerous awards include: the NRL Alan Berman Research Publication Award, 2009; NRL-Edison Sigma Xi Young Investigator Science Award, 2005; NRL Edison Patent Award for a patent on surface-emitting photonic-crystal distributed-feedback lasers, 2004; Department of the Navy Technology Transfer Royalty Award for work on mid-IR antimonide type-II quantum-well lasers, 2003; Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) J. J. Thompson Premium Award for the Session 2002/2003 for a paper entitled Photonic-Crystal Distributed-Feedback Lasers for the Midwave Infrared; Federal Consortium for Technology Transfer Award for work on an improved version of quantitative mobility-spectrum analysis, 2001; and the National Research Council Research Associateship at Naval Research Laboratory, 1995.

The OSA was founded in 1916, to increase and diffuse the knowledge of optics, pure and applied; to promote the common interests of investigators of optical problems, of designers and of users or optical apparatus of all kinds; and to encourage cooperation among them. The Society's membership totals more than 16,000 individuals from over 100 countries.