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Undergraduate Programs

Xerox Engineering Research Fellows

2019 Research Opportunities

The Institute of Optics

Professor Geunyoung Yoon
The Institute of Optics

Research Project: Myopia Development: Role of Optical Quality of the Eye

Myopia is one of the leading causes of visual impairment worldwide and is linked to severe eye diseases such as maculopathy, retinal detachment and glaucoma. The overall prevalence of myopia has increased substantially in recent years. With higher levels of myopia becoming a significant public health concern, it is of crucial importance to find effective treatments to slow myopic progression in children. Among many potential causes of myopia development such as genetics, visual environment, accommodative ability, research focus in this project is on understanding how the optics of the eye across the visual field influences myopia progression and control. The project provides a research opportunity to learn the human eye and visual optics by using advanced ocular imaging technology, adaptive optics vision simulator, and customized lens design using optical ray tracing.

Professor Robert Boyd
The Institute of Optics and Department of Physics and Astronomy

Research Project:  Understanding the Giant Nonlinear Response of ENZ materials.

The research effort will be focused on developing a greater understanding of the nonlinear response and limitations of materials that exhibit epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) behavior.  Presently, nonlinear optical phenomena require high-intensity laser sources and interaction lengths, which are not compatible with nanophotonics.  Nanophotonic applications could be greatly expanded if the nonlinear response is fundamentally enhanced.  Epsilon-near-zero materials such as highly doped semiconductors or metastructures provide an opportunity to achieve a giant tailorable nonlinearity.  This enhanced nonlinearity will allow additional means to manipulate light on the nanoscale.  The goal is to achieve complete dynamic control of a light beam’s parameters such as amplitude, phase, polarization, wavelength and propagation direction at low optical powers.  This will enable the tools required for the next generation of nano-optical systems.

Professor Kenneth Marshall
Laboratory for Laser Energetics

Research Project #1: High-reflectivity polymer cholesteric liquid crystal (PCLC) flake/fluid host devices for applications in optics, photonics, and information displays

Particles of cholesteric liquid crystal polymers (PCLC flakes) suspended in commodity host fluids form the basis of a patented reflective electro-optical technology that has numerous applications in optics, photonics, and flexible low-density information displays (e.g., billboards and large area signage). The ability to "sandwich" films of PCLC material of opposite optical "handedness" (left and right) enables electricallyswitchable, low cost devices that have brightly saturated colors with reflectivity exceeding 80% (nearly 2-3x the reflectivity of white paper), but the process for preparing "layered" PCLC flakes needs additional development and refinement. This project addresses the materials, processes and methods for achieving this goal.

Research Project #2; Photoswitchable liquid crystal gas permeation membranes for controlled gas delivery in scientific, biomedical, and alternative energy applications

Polymeric materials containing liquid crystal (LC) dyes that undergo photomechanical isomerization have demonstrated the ability to optically control and switch the flow of nitrogen gas over millisecond time intervals in response to irradiation of the membrane with UV and visible light. This patented materials technology in the form of a solid-state photoswitchable membrane would have applications in a number of areas, including delivery of breathing and anesthetic gases in biomedical applications and control of fuel gas flow on a micro scale for pulsed delivery of fuel cell hydrogen gas delivery to automobile engines. Considerable research using these materials remains to be done in assessing their effectiveness at controlling and switching gas flow using other gases and developing a prototype device for demonstration to obtain additional development funding. This project seeks to address the above objectives through exploiting recently available free-standing photoswitchable azobenzene LC polymer films developed for entirely different applications and determining their gas permeation photoswitching using specialized equipment developed and built in-house.

Professor Jannick Rolland
The Institute of Optics

Research Project: Hyperion: A Mixed Reality User Experience for an Optical Design Computation and Visualization Platform


The lack of an optical system design platform focused on research has hindered progress in this field since the 80s, when codes went commercial. Eikonal+ is a research-focused optical design computation and visualization platform we are developing to address this issue.  Eikonal+ research has been separated in two parallel efforts - the modernization and improvement of the original Fortran backend and the development of a new 3D centered frontend (code-named Hyperion) targeting the visualization of folded and freeform optical systems. Our goal is for Hyperion to be a true 3D cross-platform mixed reality (MR) user experience (UX) for Eikonal+. The project operates at the boundary between optical engineering, software development, and scientific visualization. A computer science major undergraduate with minor in optics or an optics major with a strong interest in computational analysis will be best fits for the task.  

Professor Duncan Moore
The Institute of Optics 

Research Project: Lightguide Solar Concentrators

This project’s goal is to understand the efficiency of lightguide solar concentrators and determine how manufacturing defects affects the energy that is harvested. Our group has developed a novel method for collecting sunlight and concentrating it on solar cells. Manufacturing methods have developed enough in recent years that these designs will soon be able to be produced relatively inexpensively. It is important before moving to larger scale prototypes to understand the limitations of the new manufacturing methods so that the concentrator designs can be adjusted to maximize the energy that is harvested. This project entails assisting with the assembly of lightguide concentrator prototypes and testing them with our solar simulator as well as outdoors with natural sunlight. There may be some work in LabView and the opportunity to do some modeling in LightTools. The student will work closely with a graduate student to assemble prototypes and test the concentrators.