The University Record, April 4, 1994

$4.5 million grant funds collaborative center

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Researchers at the U-M, the Univer-sity of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Texas, Austin, have been awarded $4.5 million to establish a new Center for Optoelectronics Science and Technology (COST). The center will be one of four funded by the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

“These three universities together constitute the finest aggregation of university-based facilities for optoelectronics research in the United States,” says Pallab Bhattacharya, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, who will direct the U-M portion of the center’s research.

“Our mission is to develop optoelectronic materials, devices and components useful not only for long-distance transmissions, such as telephone calls, but also for very short-distance transmissions, such as between stations or from one chip to another.”

Research at the center could produce the high-speed materials and components needed for tomorrow’s information superhighway, according to Bhattacharya.

Optoelectronic technology combines the speed and compactness of optical fibers with the switching and amplification capability of electronics. To switch signals back and forth between pulses of light and electrons without scrambling or losing bits of data, all components of the system must be compatible and capable of operating at very high speeds.

“By increasing the speed of all stages of the system from laser transmitter to optical receiver, we can transmit greater amounts of information,” Bhattacharya says.

Research at the center will be done in close collaboration with more than 25 industrial partners, including the Ann Arbor-based Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, AMOCO, AT&T, Bellcore, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, Hughes, Laser Diode Inc., Lockheed-Sanders, Raytheon and Texas Instruments.

“Inter-institutional research programs will focus on critical enabling technologies for which a technology transfer route from fundamental research to application can be found,” Bhattacharya says.

“Industry may provide design specifications for a new type of laser, for example, which would be developed jointly by university and industry researchers.

“Everything will be developed with marketability and real world applications in mind,” he added.

George I. Haddad, the Robert J. Hiller Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will direct the center’s technology transfer program.

In addition to Bhattacharya and Haddad, other U-M faculty participating in COST are Mohammed N. Islam, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science; and Dimitris Pavlidis and Jasprit Singh, both professors of electrical engineering and computer science.

Steve G. Bishop, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, is the center’s director. Bhattacharya and Joe C. Campbell, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas, are associate directors.