Arafin wins NSF CAREER Award for advancing bio-sensing applications

Posted: April 10, 2022

Behind advancements in healthcare and medical technology, there are engineers working at microscopic levels making sure such ideas become reality.

At The Ohio State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Shamsul Arafin recently won a $500,000 National Science Foundation Early CAREER Research Award to help do his part. His goal is to create the first non-telecom photonic integrated circuits (PICs) platform based on the antimonide (antimony and gallium) material system dedicated to advance biomedical sensing applications.

Shamsul Arafin

Arafin said traditional telecom and datacom PICs are advanced systems-on-a-chip, enabling transmission of data at high speeds, using optical carriers such as lasers. They operate within extended infrared levels of the electromagnetic spectrum, but have reached their full potential – unlike the sensing PICs targeted through Arafin’s CAREER program

Arafin’s NSF-funded project is titled “GaSb-based Photonic Integrated Circuits for Short- and Mid-Wave Infrared Applications.” The technology is the next generation of disruptive engineering critical to meeting size, weight, power, and performance goals for many diverse applications, including chemical sensing, industrial process control, and non-invasive medical diagnostics.

The overarching goals of this project are to advance understanding of the low-bandgap antimonide material system for for use in a PICs technology platform in the extended short- and mid-wave infrared spectral band, and to expand educational opportunities related to infrared materials science and device technology.

The wavelength targeted within the electromagnetic spectrum is important, Arafin said, for allowing both gas and liquid molecules to power sensing applications. It’s also safe for the eye and adaptable for LiDAR/remote sensing applications. His findings should broadly impact the field of photonics – as well as optics, materials science, electrical engineering, physics, and chemistry – by enabling operation in this underdeveloped spectral region.

“This integrated photonic demonstration will prove feasibility for future, on-chip, low-cost, compact, robust, and energy-efficient photonic subsystems that will enable a wide range of practical applications,” Arafin said. “The highly-integrated optical devices and subsystems will simultaneously improve performance and efficiency, as well as help meet low size, weight, power and cost constraints for next-generation photonic technologies.”

In addition to high impact research advancement, this project will support interdisciplinary education activities in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The educational and outreach components include engaging K-12, undergraduate and graduate students in advancements in optics and photonics.

based on original article by Ryan Horns, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering