Wenshan Cai has received an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award for his project entitled “Hot-Carrier-Induced Nonlinear Optical Processes in Photonic Metamaterials.” An associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2012, Cai is among the 33 ONR Young Investigator Award recipients this year whose research holds strong promise across several naval-relevant science and technology areas.
Cai’s research aims to leverage the ultrafast dynamics of plasmonic-induced hot-carriers at the interface of nanostructured metals and electron-acceptor-materials to establish a fundamentally new paradigm for all-optical, spectrally tunable, and sup-picosecond control of nonlinear optical processes in plasmonic metamaterials for signal generation and data processing. This project is well aligned with the naval mission and future capability needs, particularly in scientific advances and research activities in all-optical and optoelectronic manipulation of nonlinear optics that are closely linked with the naval science and technology focus areas of electromagnetic maneuver warfare and power and energy.
Since the nonlinear optical processes in this research are enabled and manipulated via weak optical and electrical signals, the outcome of Cai’s study offers potentially transformative means for monitoring the spectrum, sensing in electromagnetic environments, and the detection of electronic signals. His research will also advance the use of continuous and pulsed lasers with reduced power consumption and more efficient energy harvesting technology for the naval forces.
Cai also holds a joint appointment in Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. He has received several national and international distinctions, including the OSA/SPIE Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award in 2014 and the CooperVision Science & Technology Award in 2016.
Introduced in 1985, the ONR Young Investigator Program is one of the nation's oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs. Its purpose is to fund early-career academic researchers whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the Department of Defense, while also promoting their professional development.