CHTM - Building for the Future

CHTM was first established as one of five Centers of Technical Excellence (CTE) by the New Mexico legislature, with an initial infusion of approximately $10M in funding that was spread over the years from 1983 to 1988. The late Art Guenther, in his capacity as the Governor’s science advisor, was instrumental in shepherding the CTEs through the legislature. In 1985, Bill Streifer joined UNM as CHTM’s first Director and the research focus of the Center was initially set as high-power laser diodes.

In his short period as Director, Streifer did an outstanding job of establishing CHTM and recruiting exceptional faculty. Streifer left UNM in 1986 to return to Spectra Diode Laboratories in Silicon Valley, a company which he had co-founded earlier, and Steven Brueck, who had been recruited earlier from the MIT Lincoln Lab, became the Director. Brueck's leadership of CHTM, which lasted until 2013, led to substantial growth. Brueck retired in 2014, but to this day he remains extremely active in his research and student mentoring at CHTM.

Sanjay Krishna, who joined UNM in 2001, served as CHTM Director from 2013 until July 2016, when he accepted an endowed position at The Ohio State University. His commitment to CHTM’s growth and building on its already strong internationally known reputation led to increased "brand" recognition of CHTM's role as an internationally renowned center of excellence in photonics and microelectronics.

Arash Mafi is current interim Director of CHTM, taking on new leadership at UNM after serving as the General Chair of the Optical Science and Engineering (OSE) Graduate Program in the 2015-2016 academic year. He joined the UNM Physics and Astronomy Department in 2014. In his direction of this world class research center, Arash has expressed his appreciation of the opportunity to work with UNM administration, deans, department chairs, and other center directors to ensure that CHTM retains its core strengths and can expand into new research areas.

CHTM Clean Room

Metallic Thin Film Deposition in CHTM Clean Room

CHTM’s facilities have grown steadily over the years. In 1993, the people of New Mexico voted in favor of an educational bond issue in support of building the current 60,000 sq. ft. CHTM main building, which was completed in 1997. Equipment was added through contracts and donations, at an estimated valuation of $30M.

Presently, in addition to the main building, the CHTM facilities include laboratory outposts in the Dykewood Building (across the parking lot from the main building) at 801 University Avenue, and the Crystal Growth Facility housing the MOCVD.

Today, CHTM is the cornerstone of UNM’s Science and Technology Park, where a great deal of research and economic development critical to the future of New Mexico is conducted. 

Future of CHTM

In its over 30 years of history, CHTM has become a successful and critical contributor to UNM’s research and economic development activities. CHTM has been and will continue to help define the future of photonics and nanotechnology at national and international levels. To quote Brueck and Krishna, “CHTM’s best days are ahead of us!”