The UArizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences is internationally recognized for its innovative and unusually comprehensive research programs.

Our Optics Competencies

Optical Engineering & Design

Optical engineering uses classical optics techniques to create novel devices and instrumentation, and the College of Optical Sciences leads the field in designing and fabricating highly specialized optics.

Optical Physics

Research groups pursue projects in quantum gases, quantum information, theoretical and computational optical physics, experimental and theoretical semiconductor quantum optics, and ultrafast lasers, with impacts to the theory and applications of high-harmonic generation, laser cooling and trapping, quantum control, and much more.

Quantum Information

Quantum information science is an enabling field that will give rise to unprecedented capabilities beyond the reach of the current classical technologies. Our research is dedicated to harnessing unique quantum phenomena of light and matter, e.g., entanglement, to implement quantum-enhanced applications such as ultra-precise sensing, secure communications, physical simulations, and high-performance computing.

Image Science

Designing new technology for medical imaging, homeland security, earth sciences and other applications, and in developing new methods for assessing image quality by quantifying how accurately imaging systems can accomplish certain analytical task.


Research in photonics at the College of Optical Sciences ranges in scope from fundamentally new tools, such as small-footprint, high-throughput multiphoton microscopes, through exceptionally high-power semiconductor lasers, to components and systems for next-generation optical networks for both the Internet and data centers, and into consumer equipment like 3-D displays.

UArizona Optics By The Numbers

3 Nobel Prizes in Physics
Ranked #4 best optical program among U.S. public universities
Ranked #1 in graduating students in optical sciences among U.S. Universities
$25,000,000 per Year in Research Revenue

Optical Sciences Laboratories and Research Centers

Our researchers are involved in a myriad of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional programs — including organizations dedicated to increasing the speed of the Internet, to building a better solar cell and to finding newer and more accurate ways to detect and diagnose cancer. The UArizona Wyant Optical Sciences College provides facilities that are available to all campus researchers as well as external, non-sponsored research customers.

Key Facts About Optics

Optics research encompasses a broad set of technologies and techniques for exploiting the properties and applications of light, touching virtually every field of science and industry. As UArizona’s most research-intensive unit, the college has strong industry ties, typically deriving a third of its research from corporate partners in defense, information technology, biomedical optics and manufacturing. Its faculty are constantly expanding the boundaries of optics knowledge, and collaborating to deploy innovative solutions.

Top Producer of Patents at UArizona
Largest Optics Program in the U.S.

Optics News

Astronomers Discover Massive Galaxy 'Shipyard' in the Distant Universe

Astronomers have discovered a structure thought to be a “protocluster” of galaxies on its way to developing into a galaxy supercluster. Observations show the protocluster, which is located 11 billion light-years from Earth, as it appeared when the universe was 3 billion years old, when stars were produced at higher rates in certain regions of the cosmos. Several instruments joined forces to produce this image of the G237 protocluster, identifying its galaxies in different colors representing different wavelengths of observations. The image on the right zooms in on the central region of this massive galaxy “shipyard.”

Optical switching at record speeds opens door for ultrafast, light-based electronics and computers

By Logan Burtch-Buus, University Communications

Imagine a home computer operating 1 million times faster than the most expensive hardware on the market. Now, imagine that level of computing power as the industry standard. University of Arizona researchers hope to pave the way for that reality using light-based optical computing, a marked improvement from the semiconductor-based transistors that currently run the world.

Optical sciences researcher dishes up new method for measuring radio antennas

Joel Berkson, a third-year doctoral student in the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences and Steward Observatory, has developed a new way for precisely measuring the surfaces of radio antenna, which are used to collect and focus radio waves for astronomy and satellite communications.

These dish-shaped antennas, like the ones depicted in the 1997 movie “Contact” starring Jodie Foster, must be manufactured with an extremely high level of accuracy to work well. To ensure their accuracy, engineers measure the antenna surfaces using metrology, a technique that applies the science of measurement to manufacturing, instrumentation and calibration processes.



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