Proposal for New Investment in Faculty Hiring
Millimeter-Wave and Terahertz Imaging
N. Erickson1, S. Frasier2, R. W. Jackson2 G. Narayanan1,
P. Schloerb1, P. Siqueira2, G. Wilson1, K. S. Yngvesson2
( Astronomy, 2ECE, POC: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org )
This is a proposal for hiring two junior faculty with research interests in innovative technology for
imaging the physical world at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. One new hire would join the
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and emphasize terrestrial applications such as
atmospheric science, contraband detection, and medical imaging while the other would join the
Astronomy Department and focus on extra-terrestrial imaging. Their shared interest would be in
instrumentation at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths where recent developments in high speed
electronics and nanotechnology show promise of great impact. These hires will enhance
interdisciplinary cooperation between strong existing research groups in Radio Astronomy (AST),
Terahertz Electronics (ECE) and Remote Sensing (ECE).
II. Background and Rationale
The Astronomy Department is completing the world's largest (50m diameter) single dish radio
telescope for millimeter wave astronomy: the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT). LMT will be a
major facility for astronomy world-wide and a centerpiece for observational astronomy at UMass. It is
critical to be sure that UMass “makes the most” of its investment in this remarkable new instrument.
Indeed, this was a central theme of the Department's most recent AQAD review, which, among other
recommendations, supported new hiring in Astronomy in areas which would support the LMT.
To assure a long and productive research lifetime, it is essential for LMT's instrumentation to remain at
the state of the art. Thus, a key part of the future development and use of LMT will be the creation of
“next generation” scientific instruments for the telescope. LMT's greatest strength in the world of
millimeter wave astronomy is in its ability to rapidly survey the sky with the antenna's large collecting
area. The initial LMT instruments emphasize use of focal plane array imaging receivers to enhance
this ability. Development of larger, more capable arrays can multiply the LMT's surveying
capabilities by orders of magnitude above its initial capabilities, and therefore, we place a high priority
in achieving this goal.
Recognizing the need to maintain a strong and active instrumentation program in the Dept. of
Astronomy in support of LMT, the Department has included an “Instrumentalist” in its long-range plan
for faculty hiring. Here, the term “Instrumentalist” is used to identify someone who carries out
research in astronomy but, in so doing, constructs specific instruments to do this research. These
individuals are a highly sought after commodity in Astronomy. Their instrumentation work not only
enables their own scientific research, but enhances the Department's observational capabilities and
makes telescopes like the LMT more productive.
The Astronomy Dept has a long history of innovation in the specific technologies most relevant to this
proposed collaboration - mm-wave heterodyne imaging systems - having built the world’s first 3mm
heterodyne imaging receiver and more recently the world’s largest at 32 pixels, and has also has been
involved in many THz receiver projects including several spacecraft. This record in the development
of mm-wave heterodyne imaging has largely been achieved by two research faculty, as there are
currently no teaching faculty in this important subfield of instrumentation. This lack makes it harder to
encourage graduate students to work in this critical area, and also makes teaching courses in related
fields more difficult.
To be most effective and to remain at the state of the art, an individual Instrumentalist in Astronomy
often relies on good collaborative connections with technical groups who pursue the development of
devices and techniques that are valuable to astronomical instruments. Here at the University of
Massachusetts, we are fortunate to have already established such connections with groups in the
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering on the Amherst Campus and more broadly with
the Submillimeter Wave Technology Laboratory (STL) in the Department of Physics on the Lowell
Campus. Thus, there is a good base upon which to build the sort of collaborations that will be
necessary to develop and exploit technologies needed for millimeter-wave imaging that will enable
exactly the sorts of new instruments needed for the LMT.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has Wireless Sensing and Communications as
one of its recognized areas of excellence. The department’s success in this area has in large part
developed out of strong industry support for the UMass Microwave Engineering Program, one of the
largest and longest-running of its kind in the country. Industry has supported this program in order to
encourage the growth of a faculty with just the type of expertise we seek in the proposed hire. Five
active research labs have spun out of this long term support including the three described below. All
these laboratories except the UMass TerahertzLab (UMTL) emphasize technology and phenomena
below 100 GHz. Above 100 GHz and into the Terahertz range, the department’s brand recognition
resides primarily with Professor Yngvesson, the director of UMTL. However, he is retired, and
although he is active, it is unclear how long it will be before he winds down. At the same time, there
have been recent advances in technologies such as high speed silicon and nanotechnology that will
make exciting applications above 100 GHz more affordable, and possibly commercially viable. These
applications include atmospheric (climate) sensing, contraband detection, and medical imaging (skin
and breast cancers). Thus the hires we propose will help fill an area where ECE is losing a solid brand
name, but where there is a growth opportunity. In order to maintain our reputation in this technology
area, ECE must hire a junior faculty who will take advantage of the expertise and facilities that
Professor Yngvesson has developed over the years.
To help establish the vitality of ECE’s research in the areas that would surround, support, and leverage
the new hires’ research, a sample of the relevant existing labs are described.
The Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) designs, fabricates, and field-tests microwave
systems for studying the atmosphere, ocean, and earth’s surface. MIRSL engineering students and
faculty routinely travel to Oklahoma, Colorado, the Tropics and other areas to collaborate in tornado
research, hurricane reconnaissance, and other experiments. Their instruments are flown in airplanes
and satellites in order to produce detailed images of climate related phenomena such as wind speed,
rain rate, vegetation, and land and sea ice. Lab research is funded by NASA, NSF, NOAA, USDA,
CASA, the center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, is a prestigious National
Science Foundation Engineering Center with over $40 million in federal, university, industry, and state
funding. The Center brings together a multidisciplinary group of engineers, computer scientists,
meteorologists, sociologists, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as industry and government
partners to conduct fundamental research, develop enabling technology, and deploy prototype
engineering systems . A fundamental part of the CASA mission is the detailed imaging of atmospheric
conditions based on the measurements made by a network of low cost radars.
The UMass Terahertz Laboratory’s (UMTL) main focus has been on terahertz receivers intended for
application to ground-based astronomy systems, as well as a new generation of space science
instruments. The lab was a key player in the initial development hot electron bolometer devices that
increased the sensitivity of THz astronomy receivers by an order-of-magnitude. In 2003, UMTL led a
team that developed and installed what was at the time the highest frequency (1.2 THz to 1.5 THz)
receiver on a ground-based telescope, located at the US South Pole Station. Similar receivers
developed by Swedish collaborators have recently been launched (May 2009) by ESA and NASA on
the Herschel spacecraft. Funded by NASA, UMTL developed the first (3 pixel) imaging Focal Plane
Array (FPA) for any frequency above 1 THz. In the above work, UMTL has had a long-lasting
relationship and collaboration with the UMass Lowell Submillimeter Wave Technology Laboratory.
UMTL has recently begun investigating how nanotechnology can be put to use in this frequency range,
and has demonstrated the first terahertz detector that employs carbon nanotubes.
In the 2005 AQAD evaluation of the ECE Department, outside reviewers recommended that the
department both maintain its “brand” in the remote sensing area and make use of it to expand into
promising related areas. The reviewers also suggested investing two or three new areas, one of which
was bioelectronics. Professors Yngvesson UMTL) and Siqueria (MIRSL) have combined these two
suggestions in their research on Terahertz imaging of biomedical features such as skin and breast
cancers. Proposals have been submitted on the topic to NIH and NSF (see Appendix.) The Terahertz
expertise that a new hire would bring will be an important resource for this effort as well as for the
other applications already mentioned (climate, contraband, and astronomy). ECE’s newly formed
Biomedical Sensing and Signal Processing group has been targeting some much different opportunities
in bioelectronics. For example, Professor Chris Salthouse will be developing electronics for
fluorescence imaging of the chemical processes in cells. We note that although both the new hire and
Professor Salthouse may work on imaging, their areas of expertise would be in completely different
technologies, and the new hire would likely also contribute in areas such as astronomy and remote
sensing where Professor Salthouse has no special knowledge.
III. Interdisciplinary Cooperation
History of Cooperation
Electrical and Computer Engineering and Astronomy have a record of cooperation over many years.
One of the ECE faculty (Yngvesson) and his students were involved in the design and construction of
the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory 45 foot millimeter wave telescope, completed in 1976.
The two departments have co-supervised a number of MS and Ph.D. students (See appendix).
Astronomy faculty (Erickson and Narayanan) and ECE faculty (Swift, Jackson, Yngvesson) serve as
outside members of Dissertation committees in ECE and Astronomy, respectively. The 2004
International Symposium on Space TeraHertz technology was held at UMass and was jointly
organized by faculty in Astronomy and ECE. When the LMT project was started at UMass ten years
ago, a number of the Mexican exchange students received their graduate degrees in ECE. There are
many cases where laboratory facilities/staff in a department were borrowed by researches in the other
Opportunity for Enhanced Collaboration
Although there has been collaboration between the departments, there is the potential for much more.
The instruments that are developed for astronomical and terrestrial observations share a number of
common challenges such as sensitivity, data processing, antenna design, high frequency power,
calibration and measurement techniques. On the other hand, the differences in research will provide an
opportunity for stimulating interactions such as could be expected when a group that normally images
gases in stars that are millions of miles away trades ideas with a group that is imaging gases in the
atmosphere less than 10 miles distance. Students and faculty can be stimulated by exploring these
differences while at the same time, leveraging shared technology. Both hires will be capable of
offering courses that will be of use to students in both departments.
There are differences in emphasis in the sensing efforts in the two departments. In Astronomy, the
crucial technology is centered at millimeter wavelengths. In ECE, the imaging systems span a wider
range of wavelengths than in Astronomy but overlap in the millimeter wave range. The primary
contact point in this overlap has been Professor Yngvesson of ECE who has always been interested in
radio astronomy and devices for the millimeter wave/terahertz range. Plans must be set in motion now
in order to preserve this overlap. The two hires that we propose will be in areas that strengthen and
broaden the common research in millimeter wave/terahertz imaging.
IV. Governance and Mentoring
We propose a steering committee consisting of the two new faculty plus two established faculty from
each department. The steering committee would meet regularly to promote cooperation and to insure
that all opportunities for interdisciplinary efforts are explored. Examples include such things as cross
listing of courses. Accessible astronomy courses would be very popular with ECE students. A
graduate program in instrumentation for radio astronomy might also be an attractive prospective
graduate students in both ECE and Astronomy. Obviously there would be a search for funding
opportunities where UMass could take advantage of the interdisciplinary cooperation. As the new
hires become more established, the increased activity could lead to the formation of a Center for
Terahertz Imaging, an idea that has been discussed in the past.
The tenure and promotion of the new faculty will be determined by their home department. We do not
plan joint appointments as it complicates personnel decisions. Although the steering committee will
provide some mentoring, a more day-to-day mentoring will be necessary. In Astronomy, Professors
Schloerb (FCRAO/LMT director) will act as primary faculty mentor with Professors Erickson,
Narayanan, and Wilson taking leadership roles as appropriate. In ECE the primary mentor will depend
on the precise technical interests of the new faculty. Professor Yngvesson will likely be a mentor, at
least initially, with Professors Jackson, Siqueira, Frasier also available.
One of the special attractions of UMass to prospective hires is the availability of relevant laboratory
facilities both on and off campus. From an Astronomy viewpoint the Large Millimeter Telescope
described in Section II is a unique opportunity for a young astronomer with instrumentation interests.
In addition, the department has a wide range of equipment of use for instrument development ranging
from millimeter wave network analyzers and spectrum analyzers to micromachining instrumentation
and cryogenic facilities. As mentioned previously, the department has a long history of instrument
development and the technical expertise available is an invaluable resource for a young faculty.
There is laboratory space available in the Astronomy department for new faculty.
ECE has developed a number of extensive laboratory facilities over the last 30 years. The Terahertz
lab has equipment specialized to the spectrum of interest to new hires. Unique UMTL facilities
include two gas lasers, several terahertz optics setups and cryogenic equipment. It is hoped that a new
hire would help expand this lab and eventually direct it. The lab is currently located in Marcus Hall
and there is room for expansion, although some renovation would be necessary. There are also other
relevant laboratory facilities in Marcus Hall including the Laboratory for Microwave and Millimeter
wave Devices and Applications and the Antenna Laboratory. These laboratories house fabrication
equipment, and anechoic chambers for antenna measurements as well as a number of high quality
instruments for measurements into the low millimeter wave range. In addition, the Microwave
Remote Sensing laboratory and the CASA laboratory in the Knowles building are well set up for
circuit and sensor systems development for field deployment. Most recently MIRSL has developed a
facility for space qualifying satellite sensors. (See the Appendix for a more complete facilities list.) It
is also likely that there will be funds from industry, especially Raytheon, that could contribute to
equipment purchases for new hires in millimeter /sub-millimeter wave research.
Outside of Astronomy and ECE, we have already noted both departments’ collaborations with the
UMass Lowell Submillimeter Wave Technology Laboratory. In addition, the UMass Amherst Keck
Nanostructures Laboratory is a new, well equipped laboratory that will be an invaluable resource for
faculty that wish to develop novel nanostructure devices for sub-millimeter wave sensing.
VI. Timeliness of Area and Future Prospects
In this section we note the recent activity by funding agencies and research conferences in the
millimeter/submillimeter wave research. This is an indicator of current interest and future opportunity.
• DARPA has had a continuing interest in THz electronics as enunciated in their named funding
programs, TIFT (Terahertz Imaging and Focal Plane Technology), and SWIFT (Sub-
millimterwave Focal Plane Technology). They note application interests such as all weather
reconnaissance, seeing through walls, multipspectral imaging, contraband detection, medical
tomography and space imaging.
• In the 2009 International Microwave Symposium, there was a complete session THz devices in
silicon. This is important because the performance improvements in silicon will enable THz
integrated devices to be mass produced for advance imaging instruments at costs that could be
reasonable for commercial application.
• In preparation for the 2011 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-11) the World
Meteorological Organization WMO has prepared (or is preparing) position statements, one of
which notes the “high interest and importance of such bands above 275 GHz for meteorology,
climatology and environmental activities ….. to allow early assessment of meteorological next
• Both the Space Terahertz meeting and the Conference on Infrared and Millimeter waves have
been gaining attendance recently with the former having its largest attendance ever this year.
• NASA is using a THz system from Picometrix for nondestructive testing of shuttle tiles
• NASA’s Earth Science Technology and Planetary Exploration Program funds major
equipment developments. These programs are coupled with one of the science programs,
which has long term interests in developing THz sensors for detecting the state and presence of
The Astronomy Dept has very complete mm and submm design and test facilities, which comprise one
of the best labs in the world for this purpose. The radio astronomy group has a history of designing
and building very high performance equipment for frequencies up to 2000 GHz. Lab space totals
1500 sq ft. The design facilities include a 3 GHz dual-core PC running HP design software ADS, and
Ansoft HFSS. AutoCAD is available for mechanical layout. A cryogenic test facility operated with a
CTI model 1020 refrigerator can cool waveguide components to 20 K, with conveniently located ports
for room temperature access. Cycle time to 20K and back to RT is less than 2 hours. This facility
includes a WR10 variable temperature load for noise temperature characterization. A second test
dewar is cooled with a Sumitomo 4K refrigerator for SIS mixer work.
Micro-assembly facilities include three long working distance high resolution stereo microscopes
(Nikon SMZ-10 and SMZ-U), two very high resolution metallurgical scopes, one outfitted for
precision 3 axis measurement, and a K&S wire bonder. Micro-soldering fixtures and many other
manipulators are on hand, as well as a very complete range of micro-cutting tools. A fully
computer controlled 3 axis micro-milling machine in the millimeter-wave lab is able to produce
waveguide blocks for frequencies up to 3 THz using a variety of precision cutting tools. This machine
is operated by a commercial CAD controller and software to convert drawings to machine code. The
astronomy department has a full machine shop with a Haas EZ-Trac 3 axis CNC milling machine, a
Bridgeport 2 axis CNC milling machine, jig bores, jeweler’s lathe and conventional mills, lathes and
Test equipment includes complete frequency swept test setups from 1-320 GHz (in bands). Scalar
measurements of insertion loss and return loss may be made over this full range using three HP8757
network analyzers. An HP8510C vector network analyzer is available in 1-50 GHz, and 80-115 GHz
bands with coaxial and wafer probe capability. A complete selection of wavemeters and precision
variable attenuators is available in waveguide bands up to 170 GHz. A large collection of waveguide
pieces and transitions is available in bands up to WR3 (220-325 GHz). An HP E4407B spectrum
analyzer covers .01-26 GHz and mm-wave bands with external mixers. There are signal sources at
many frequencies up to 2 THz and power measurement equipment for frequencies up to 5 THz.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Terahertz Laboratory (UMTL) measurements at low temperatures can be performed either in LN2 or
LHe dewars, or in a CTI Model 350 mechanical refrigerator. One LHe dewar incorporates a
superconducting magnet for fields to 5 T. Two CO2 laser-pumped Terahertz gas-laser systems, based
on the Coherent/DEOS CO2 laser, are available. A Scientech power meter, CO2 spectrometer, FTIR
spectrometer, pyroelectric detectors, bolometer detector, mirrors etc. are available for measurements in
the THz range.
Micro-fabrication facilities in the ECE Dept. clean room facility include a submicron mask aligner
(Karl Suss MJB3UV), a multi-target sputtering system (Sputtered Film, Inc., S-Gun Turbosystem,
Series II), and E-beam evaporator (CHA Industries, SE-600), a plasma reactive ion etcher
(Microscience, Inc.), a scanning electron microscope (AMRAY 1810D), two wire bonders, a DC probe
station and furnaces for semiconductor doping.
Laboratory for Microwave and Millimeter wave Devices and Applications (LAMMDA) Measurement
equipment includes: a Cascade probe station and Agilent network analyzer for 50 GHz measurements,
spectrum analyzers to 50 GHz, and sources and sweepers extending to 110 GHz. A 13 GHz Tektronix
oscilloscope has recently been purchased. There are various Fabrication equipment includes;
wirebonders, microscopes and a T-Tek circuit board milling machine.
Antennas and Propagation Laboratory (APLab) Facilities of the APLab include an antenna anechoic
chamber and modern test instrumentation. The anechoic chamber is used for making pattern
measurements from 1 GHz to 94 GHz. Other state-of-the-art electronic test equipment includes;
Agilent PNA Network Analyzers, 10 MHz to 40 GHz HP8510B Vector Network Analyzer (VNA)
Agilent E4433B, E44375 signal generators 250 kHz - 4 GHz Agilent E4440A PSA spectrum analyzer,
3 Hz - 26.5 GHz Spirent TAS 4500 Flex RF channel emulator HP 8511A frequency converter, 45
MHz - 26.5 GHz Agilent E8404A RF mainframe Standard gain horns, NSI 5' x 5' near field scanner
Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory consists of approximately 5000 square feet of laboratory and
office space on the first and second floors of the Knowles Engineering Building. This space is
dedicated to design, fabrication, and testing of remote sensing instrumentation ranging in frequency
from UHF to 95 GHz. The laboratory is well equipped with microwave, RF, and digital test equipment
including vector network analyzers, spectrum analyzers, peak power analyzers, synthesized signal
sources, oscilloscopes, and logic analyzers. MIRSL maintains a network of workstations and data
processing servers equipped with microwave and digital design software and data analysis software
including MatLab and IDL. These assets are shared among projects and students as needed.
II. Students Jointly Advised
• Ajay Prabhu
• Yoke-Choy Leong
• Durgesh Tiwari
• Prachi Deshpande
• Vikram Kodipelli
• Srinivas Sundaram
III. Related Funding (within 5 years)
Terahertz Transport and Ultrafast Detection in Metallic Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes
K. S. Yngvesson (PI), Eric Polizzi (Co-PI),NSF, ECS Total $300,067 for 36 mo., expires 08/31/2010
“Ultrafast Terahertz Hot Electron Bolometer Heterodyne Detectors Based on Single Wall Carbon
Nanotubes, K. S. Yngvesson (PI), NSF, $104,800, one year, expired 6/30/06
A User Facility 1.5 THz Heterodyne Receiver System, NSF, Astronomical Sciences, Advanced
Technologies and Instr.; Developed and installed THz receiver at the US South Pole Station. PI, S.
Yngvesson, $847,000 08/01/00 - 07/31/05
"W-band Radar Measurements of Smoke from Prescribed Burns”, USDA Forest Service, S.J. Frasier
(PI), 1/1/07-12/31/08, $50,000 direct.
“Dual-polarization Spaced-Antenna and Pulse-Compression Phased-Array Measurements of
Tornadoes”, NSF (ATM), S.J. Frasier (PI), P. Siqueira (Co-PI), 1/1/07-12/31/09, $649,680.
“Equipment for Clear-Air Radar Sensing for Low-Altitude Wind and Dispersion Studies”, Army
Research Office, S.J. Frasier (PI), 5/1/05-11/30/06, $165,100.
"An Advanced Multi-Frequency Radar for Atmospheric Research,” S.M. Sekelsky (PI), S.J. Frasier,
D.H. Schaubert, (Co-PIs), NSF (MRI), 9/1/01-1/31/06, $1,043,000.
“ A Low Power, High Bandwidth Receiver for Ka-band Interferometry”, NASA, Period of
performance is Feb 2009 – Jan 2012. Total award amt: $1088K. PI: Paul Siqueira (UMass), Co-I:
Brandon Heavey (JPL) and Daniel Esteban-Fernandez (JPL).
Non-Coherent Terahertz Imaging for Detection of Cancerous Breast Tissue Margins
PI: S. Yngvesson; Subcontract with UMass Medical School, Worcester. Co-PI Dr. Stephen Glick.
NIH, NIBIB Program, R21 proposal. Total: $275,000; two years., submitted Febr. 15, 2009.
A CMOS Focal Plane Array for Terahertz Imaging in Cancer Detection
PI: S. Yngvesson; Co-PI’s R.W. Jackson and M. Fischetti, NSF – CBET Biophotonics, Imaging and
Sensing Total: $689,981 for 3 years, submitted 03/01/09
“Astronomy Research at the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory,” PI Schloerb, $500,000,
NSF Apr 08- Mar 09
“An Analog Correlation Spectrometer,” PI Erickson, , May 08-Sept 08, $92,000, MIT Lincoln Labs.
“3mm MMIC Amplifiers,” PI Erickson, IRAM , $28,000, July-Nov 08
“Astronomy Research at the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory ,” PI Schloerb , $500,000,
NSF Apr 07-Mar 08
“Low noise amplifiers ,” PI Erickson, AMiBA July 07-Nov 07, $93,000
“A Redshift Measurement System for the LMT,” PI Erickson, $480,000 Apr 07-Mar 09
The Astronomy Department has devoted most of its resources in instrumental work over the past 5
years toward completing and commissioning the LMT. Because this task has been significantly
delayed, it has not been possible to raise substantial grant money from the NSF for new LMT
instruments. We expect to be in an excellent position to raise money once the LMT is complete.