Inside Rensselaer
* Brian Schulkin and E. Fred Schubert
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Brian Schulkin (left) and E. Fred Schubert (right)
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Two Rensselaer Researchers Listed Among “Scientific American 50”
Recent innovations in optics and imaging have landed Rensselaer professor E. Fred Schubert and doctoral student Brian Schulkin on the 2007 Scientific American 50 — the magazine’s prestigious annual list recognizing outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology from the past year.

Selected by the magazine’s Board of Editors with the help of distinguished outside advisers, the Scientific American 50 recognizes research, business, and policy leaders who have played a critical role in driving key science and technology trends over the past year in bio-technology, microelectronics, energy, genetics, and other fields.

“We applaud Fred’s and Brian’s breakthrough work and congratulate them for this exciting recognition,” said Provost Robert Palazzo. “The fact that two Rensselaer projects were featured on this highly selective list provides further evidence of Rensselaer’s growing reputation as a world-class research university.”

Schubert, the Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor of the Future Chips Constellation, was named a Research Leader in the list’s Light Manipulation category for his work over the past year on non-reflective coatings.
The material, which reflects virtually no light, is the first of its kind in the world and enables vastly improved control over the basic properties of light. The research is expected to enable significantly brighter LEDs, more efficient solar cells, and a new class of “smart” light sources that adjust to specific environments, among many other potential applications.

Most surfaces — from a puddle of water all the way to a mirror — reflect some amount of light. Schubert’s new material has almost the same refractive index as air, making it an ideal building block for anti-reflection coatings. It sets a world record by decreasing the reflectivity compared to conventional anti-reflection coatings by an order of magnitude.

Brian Schulkin, a doctoral student in physics and winner of the prestigious Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize in 2007, was included on the Scientific American 50 for his work on terahertz imaging.

Schulkin designed, created, and is looking to commercialize the Mini-Z, a fully integrated, portable terahertz spectrometer. The briefcase-sized, five-pound device allows doctors, the military, security personal, and scientists to peer through flesh, plastics, ceramics, and other materials to detect anything from early-stage breast cancer to explosive materials. NASA has even used the Mini-Z to detect cracks in the outer foam of space shuttles.
The 2007 Scientific American 50 appears in the magazine’s January issue. The complete list may also be accessed on the magazine’s Web site at www.sciam.com.

For more information on Schubert’s non-reflective coating, visit: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=1956.

For more information on Schulkin’s Mini Z, visit: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=1944.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 1, January 17, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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