US Department of Defense grants major award for "Radiation-Balanced Lasers" research

April 11, 2016 - CHTM

Arash Mafi

Dr. Arash Mafi

On April 7, 2016, the US Department of Defense announced it will issue 23 awards totaling $162 million over the next five years to academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research.

Professor Mansoor Sheik-Bahae (Principal Investigator) and Professor Arash Mafi (Co-PI) and their collaborators were awarded $7.5 million for their project, titled "Radiation-Balanced Lasers — New Vistas in Optical Gain and Refrigeration Materials," subtitled "Multi-disciplinary Approach to Radiation Balanced Lasers (MARBLE).” The field of radiation-balanced lasers deals with excess heat generated in lasers, and MARBLE will address this with rare earth elements and semiconductors in disks, fibers, and microstructures.

Dr. Mansoor Sheik-Bahae

Dr. Mansoor Sheik-Bahae

Dr. Mansoor Sheik-Bahae is a Distinguished Professor with the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Arash Mafi is an Associate Professor with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, a CHTM faculty member, and leader of the Photonics Research Group at UNM.

The MARBLE project is a collaborative effort between the team at the University of New Mexico and scientists at the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL), Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington and the University of Notre Dame.

“The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program, or MURI, supports research by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline in order to accelerate research progress,” said Melissa L. Flagg, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research.

“Most of the program's efforts involve researchers from multiple academic institutions and academic departments. Based on the proposals selected in the fiscal year 2016 competition, 54 academic institutions are expected to participate in these 23 research efforts,” Flagg said. 

The highly competitive MURI program supports multidisciplinary teams with larger and longer awards in carefully chosen research topics identified for their potential for significant and sustained progress. MURI awards provide strong support for the education and training of graduate students in new, cutting-edge research.

“The Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 21 topics important to DoD and the military services and received a total of 270 white papers, which were followed by 88 proposals,” Flagg said, noting that the awards were selected based on merit review by a panel of experts and are subject to successful negotiation between the institution and DoD. The awards are for a five-year period subject to availability of appropriations and satisfactory research progress.

This post was largely excerpted from the US Department of Defense announcement of the MURI awards for 2016.
• Download / View the list of projects selected for funding (PDF).
• Read the announcement posted at
• The UNM Newsroom covered the story, including quotes from Dr. Mansoor Sheik-Bahae