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Washington State University Applied Sciences Laboratory

Optical Materials

Various kinds of optical material are used for a large number of applications, including transparent glasses and ceramics with specific transmission, reflection, and absorption properties for shielding applications; impurity-doped dielectric crystals, ceramics, and glasses as well as semiconductors for solid state lasers applications; rare-earth doped dielectrics that are used to convert low-energy solar radiation into high-energy solar radiation; semiconductors and nanophase composites for the conversion of radiation into electricity for solar cells and detectors; glass and polymer fibers for the transmission of information and for sensing applications; and many more.

Understanding the basic properties of optical materials and how these properties can be modified and adjusted to meet specific functional requirements is needed to meet the increasing demands from national security, energy sustainability, and commercial demands.

A variety of laser spectroscopy and materials characterization techniques are used to evaluate the optical and materials properties.

Examples include:

  • Fabrication and characterization of optical materials, incl. bulk ceramics, inorganic nanoparticles, polymer-metal-inorganic nanocomposites, etc.
  • Lasing in bulk single crystals
  • Transparency of bulk ceramics made from nanophase precursors
  • Absorption, transmittance, reflectance, and scattering of polymer-metal nanocomposites
  • Light emission of rare-earth doped and transition-metal doped inorganics and semiconductors, ranging from nanoparticles to bulk samples
  • Effect of metallic nanoparticles on optical properties of luminescent inorganic nanoparticles
  • Upconversion in rare-earth doped inorganics