From left: Joshua Olson, a graduate student studying ultrafast fiber lasers; Nasser Peyghambarian; and Veyesi Demir, a postdoctoral researcher working on optical computing. (Photo: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona)
From left: Joshua Olson, a graduate student studying ultrafast fiber lasers; Nasser Peyghambarian; and Veyesi Demir, a postdoctoral researcher working on optical computing. (Photo: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona)

UA Scientist Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Nasser Peyghambarian of the College of Optical Sciences has been recognized for his spirit of innovation and the societal impact of his career.
Dec. 21, 2016

University of Arizona inventor Nasser Peyghambarian of the College of Optical Sciences has been elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Election to NAI fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

"It is a wonderful recognition and tremendous honor to have been elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors," Peyghambarian said. "It has been my privilege to serve the University of Arizona and the community of Tucson for the last 34 years. I look forward to continuing to serve the University of Arizona, where I have had the opportunity to interact with so many talented students, faculty and staff, and to continue to engage in creating high-tech jobs in our local economy."

Peyghambarian grew up in Iran and then moved to U.S. before the Iranian revolution in 1976 at the age of 22. While in Iran, he was a member of the Iran-America Society and learned from American teachers. As part of that education, he participated in a holography experiment that ignited his passion for optics and lasers. He first moved to Montreal, Canada (McGill University), and then to Indiana University, where he earned his Ph.D. in solid-state optics and wrote his thesis on the Bose condensation of excitons in semiconductors.

In the 30-plus years that he has been a professor at the UA's College of Optical Sciences and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Peyghambarian has successfully directed the activities of a group of between 40 and 60 researchers. He has developed and directed multidisciplinary, multi-university research programs with universities such as Columbia; Cornell; UC Berkeley; UCLA; Caltech; MIT; Stanford; California, UC San Diego; USC; Northwestern; Arizona State and Georgia Tech.

Peyghambarian has founded two companies — TIPD and NP Photonics Inc. — and both are working with Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from University research, to bring their products to the marketplace. The technology that the UA licensed to NP Photonics represents one of the largest licensing agreements in UA history. TIPD is engaged in the development of optoelectronic devices, subsystems, and systems for government and industry. 

"Nasser has been incredibly resourceful and innovative in driving our research and education mission with an enormous body of exciting and prolific graduate research activity here at the College of Optical Sciences," said Thomas Koch, dean of the college. "He has also been highly successful in steering his innovations to bring value to a broad spectrum of partners in both government and industry.  He is one of our superstars, and it's great to see him get this recognition."

Since the 1990s, Peyghambarian's group has started successful research programs in the areas of 3-D display, vision optics, nanoscale materials and devices, solar energy, and optical communications and the internet. 

Peyghambarian's research has been widely published. He has been an author on more than 600 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and his research has been reported in more than 700 invited talks, published conference proceedings and contributed presentations. Additionally, he has authored or co-authored 28 books and book chapters and is the inventor on 34 patents.

As a teacher, he has advised more than 80 graduate students who can be found in leading positions around the world in industry, academia and government labs. Both undergraduate and graduate students have benefited greatly from the research opportunities provided through his research group, and his combination of teaching, advising and research has prepared many students for successful careers in optics.

The 2016 Fellows will be inducted on April 6, 2017, as part of the sixth annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The U.S. commissioner for patents, Andrew H. Hirshfeld, will provide the keynote address for the induction. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal and rosette pin.

In 2015, the NAI inducted UA faculty members Dr. Marvin J. Slepian of the College of Medicine and James Wyant of the College of Optical Sciences.