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Posted: October 6, 2008

CU-Boulder launches new graduate program in optical sensing and imaging

(Nanowerk News) A new graduate program in computational optical sensing and imaging is being established at the University of Colorado at Boulder this fall with the awarding of a $3.2 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation.
The goal of the unique program is to educate the future workforce in the rapidly developing technologies of computational optics and address future research challenges in sensing and imaging. The NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant will be enhanced with university and industry matching funds to support as many as 20 students per year.
The proliferation of sensing and imaging systems in consumer products such as cars, cell phones and home security systems, and in semiconductor manufacturing, military operations, space exploration and medical diagnostics is expected to place the program's graduates in high demand, according to electrical and computer engineering Professor Rafael Piestun.
Piestun will direct the program with assistance from co-investigators Margaret Murnane of the department of physics and JILA, Gregory Beylkin of the department of applied mathematics and Andreas Hoenger of the department of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.
Students will be recruited from the departments of physics, applied mathematics, electrical and computer engineering, and MCD biology to work with 15 participating faculty. Each student will receive full tuition, insurance and a $30,000 annual stipend to complete their Ph.D. dissertation and receive a certificate in computational optical imaging.
The program's ties with industry and with Sandia National Labs and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide internship opportunities, research collaborations and other benefits.
The CU-Boulder program is one of only 19 IGERT proposals funded nationwide this year.
"The National Science Foundation funds less than 5 percent of IGERT proposals, so we are very pleased at the success our proposal has achieved," said Stein Sture, vice chancellor for research and dean of the Graduate School. "This support is testimony to the research and graduate educational excellence we have in optical engineering and sciences here at CU-Boulder."
The development of high-resolution "nanoscopes" that can perform molecular imaging at the nanoscale, high-sensitivity 3-D tomography that can create images of very weak objects to advance tissue engineering research, and remote space-based sensing and imaging devices for detailed observation of Mars are some examples of where the technology is heading. The new systems incorporate optics, optoelectronics, signal processing and advanced mathematical algorithms.
Colorado has a vibrant economy in optics, optical computing and photonics that includes more than 240 companies paying more than $1 billion in wages, according to the Colorado Photonics Industry Association.
For more information about the Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging program, contact Piestun at 303-735-0894 or piestun@colorado.edu.
Source: University of Colorado