University of Arizona Optical Sciences Inventor Named 2016 National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Thursday, December 15, 2016
Left to right: Joshua Olson, a graduate student studying ultrafast fiber lasers; Veyesi Demir, a post doc working on optical computing; and Nasser Peyghambarian, Ph.D. Photo credit: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Left to right: Joshua Olson, a graduate student studying ultrafast fiber lasers; Veyesi Demir, a post doc working on optical computing; and Nasser Peyghambarian, Ph.D. Photo credit: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona 

Tucson, Ariz. — University of Arizona inventor Nasser Peyghambarian, Ph.D., 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 prolific 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,” says Dr. Peyghambarian. "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.”

Nasser Peyghambarian grew up in Iran and then moved to U.S. before the 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. Through that education, he was fortunate to participate 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 University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences and Materials Science and Engineering Department, Dr. Peyghambarian has successfully directed the activities of a group of between 40 and 60 researchers. He has developed and directed multi-disciplinary, multi-university research programs with universities such as Columbia, Cornell, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Caltech, MIT, Stanford, UCSD, USC, Northwestern, Norfolk, Tuskegee, ASU, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Peyghambarian has founded two companies - TIPD, LLC and NP Photonics, Inc. – both of which 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. In fact, the technology that the UA licensed to NP Photonics represents one of the largest licensing agreements in UA history. TIPD, LLC, 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,” says 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 nineties, his group has started successful research programs in the areas of 3D display, vision optics, nanoscale materials and devices, solar energy, and optical communications and the internet. 

Dr. Peyghambarian’s research has been, and continues to be, widely published. He has been an author on more than 600 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and his research has been reported in over 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 over 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.

About the National Academy of Inventors

With the election of the 2016 class there are now 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000.

Included among all NAI Fellows are more than 94 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes; 376 members of the three branches of the National Academy of Sciences; 28 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame; 45 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science; 28 Nobel Laureates, 215 AAAS Fellows; 132 IEEE Fellows; and 116 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, among other awards and distinctions. 

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

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 & Museum in Boston, MA. U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Andrew H. Hirshfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony. In honor of their outstanding accomplishments, Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal, and rosette pin.

The academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Fellow are named inventors on U.S. patents and were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

The 2016 NAI Fellows were evaluated by a selection committee which included 19 members, comprising NAI Fellows, recipients of U.S. National Medals, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Academies and senior officials from the USPTO, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Association of American Universities, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, and other prominent organizations.

Paul Tumarkin