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First year doctoral student co-authors study on stable optical lift
Student Stories

Feb. 18, 2011
Rachel Pelz

Alexandra Artusio-Glimpse, a first year graduate student at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, is a co-author of the paper “Stable optical lift,” which was published in Nature Photonics on December 5th, 2010. The research team, led by Grover Swartzlander, proved that stable optical lift--in which a particle can be made to move and “fly” with light--exists.

Says Artusio-Glimpse, “We discovered if you take a transparent particle shaped like a very simplified plane wing, it will actually fly like a plane wing will fly. Nobody else has ever tried this type of thing before. It’s new territory.”


Beginning with computer simulations of the phenomenon, the team, which also includes Alan Raisanen and Timothy Peterson, moved on to physical experimentation. By creating micro-rods in the shape of airplane wings and and using a 130 mW laser, they observed what they had predicted with their computer model: the force of the laser caused the micro-rods to experience a stable transverse lift force.

The team sees potential for their research to have impact in the fields of biomedical engineering, micromachines, and deep space travel, among others.

Artusio-Glimpse began working on optical lift research as an undergraduate student in RIT’s undergraduate Photographic Technology program. Upon graduation, she applied to the Imaging Science PhD program so she could continue to be involved in the research.

“It’s amazing how diverse the Imaging field is,” she says. “You need to know about aerodynamics, typology, optics, wave theory. I’m always amazed how much you pull all the sciences together in order to do anything Imaging Science related.”

As a first year doctoral student with a lot more research ahead of her, Artusio-Glimpse looks forward to discovering more about optical lift and its possible applications with her research team. And after? “I could see myself becoming a professor or involved with some type of research and development,” says Artusio-Glimpse. “That’s the exciting thing about Imaging Science--there are a lot of opportunities.”

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