University of New Mexico Assistant Professor Wins NSF CAREER Award to Study Blue and Green VCSELs

Daniel Feezell, a University of New Mexico assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has received a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. The award, which commences March 1 and continues through February 2020, is for a project that he proposed of using nonpolar and semipolar GaN for blue and green short wavelength VCSEL arrays. Potential applications for the technology could include high-resolution printing, improved high-density optical data storage, advances in chemical and biological sensing, improved mobile displays and projectors, and atomic clocks. Applications of this technology could include improved high-density optical data storage and high-resolution printing, improved mobile displays and projectors, and advancements in chemical/biological sensing and atomic clocks. Feezell noted that such lasers could also add projection capabilities to smartphones that would allow users to view pictures, PowerPoint slides, and movies on a screen or wall instead of on a phone.

According to Feezell, the vertical design of VCSELs has several advantages over conventional edge-emitting lasers such as high beam quality, low power consumption, small form factor, and the ability to form densely-packed arrays. Feezell intends to add stable polarization and increase the output power using arrays. Feezell also hopes to create a green VCSEL, which is the one remaining color to complete the RGB (red, green, blue) spectrum.

Some of the project work will be collaborating with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia National Laboratories. Much of the project work will be at UNM’s Center for High-Technology Materials. Some of the funding will go towards hiring one graduate student, and the project will include an outreach program with Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), an Albuquerque national Indian community college and land-grant institution serving American Indian and Alaskan Native students. Outreach activities will include assessing the potential of installing solid-state lighting in rural Native American communities, mentoring local teachers, and developing courses at UNM.