Dr. Thomas Carruthers Receives Technology Transfer Award

12/18/2002 - 48-02r
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Dr. Thomas Carruthers, of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Optical Sciences Division, along with two former colleagues, Drs. Irl Duling and Michael Dennis, received the 2002 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. He was recognized for his successful transfer of a high speed, ultrastable, fiber-optic communications laser. The award recognizes employees for outstanding work that has led to the successful transfer of technology developed at a Federal laboratory. The results of the technology transfers may be commercial products or services or other utilization of the technology for the public benefit. Dr. Carruthers received his award at a ceremony held during the annual meeting of the FLC in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The advanced fiber-optic laser developed at NRL by Dr. Carruthers and the research team is capable of generating picosecond pulses of light at repetition rates of greater than 10 gigahertz with no measurable pulse dropouts (i.e. missing pulses). The variation of timing between pulses, or "timing jitter" is less than 10 femtoseconds. These characteristics make the laser exceptionally stable. The research team recognized the potential value of the technology and, after seeking patent protection, they worked with the NRL Technology Transfer Office to identify interested commercial partners. Marketing efforts lead to fruitful contacts with two small telecommunication companies, PriTel, Inc. in Naperville, Illinois, and Calmar Optcom in Sunnyvale, California. NRL's Technology Transfer Office negotiated a nonexclusive license with each company. After each license was signed, Dr. Carruthers and the research team provided technical support and training to company representatives to assist in the successful transfer of the technology. As a result of this collaboration, a number of products incorporating the NRL fiber-optic laser now are being manufactured and sold.

Dr. Carruthers received a B. S. degree in physics from the University of Chicago. He studied experimental solid-state physics as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellow, also at the University of Chicago. His Ph.D. research was concerned with tunneling transport and noise phenomena in metal-semiconductor and superconductor-semiconductor junctions. Dr. Carruthers conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of North Carolina, where he studied transport in amorphous semiconductors and was a research associate at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied transport in restricted-dimensionality organic conductors.

Dr. Carruthers joined the staff of the Optical Sciences Division at NRL in 1978, as a research physicist, where he studied ultrafast transport in semiconductors and semiconductor devices. In 1986, he began studying ultrafast mode-locked lasers, and his interests later turned to optical solitons, fiber-optic lasers and ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic communications.

Dr. Carruthers awards include the 1999 Alan Berman Research Publication Award and a commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. He has published 98 peer-reviewed articles and holds 5 patents.

Dr. Carruthers has served on a number of boards and panels including: NSF panels in 2001 and 2002; member of the Ultrafast Subcommittee of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), 1999 to 2000; and chairman of the CLEO Ultrafast Subcommittee, 2001 and 2002, where he co-organized a special symposium on attosecond lasers and laser stabilization. Dr. Carruthers presently sits on a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) board monitoring a research program on laser ablation with femtosecond lasers and an Office of Naval Research (ONR) board monitoring research programs on optical clocks.

Dr. Carruthers is a member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), the Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (LEOS), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

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