Mona Jarrahi: The 2022 SPIE Harold E. Edgerton Award in High-Speed Optics

The SPIE Harold E. Edgerton Award in High-Speed Optics recognizes outstanding contributions to optical or photonic techniques in the application and understanding of high-speed physical phenomena

Mona Jarrahi, winner of the 2022 SPIE Harold E. Edgerton Award in High-Speed Optics. (Image credit Mona Jarrahi/UCLA)

This article was originally published by SPIE. The International Society for Optics and Photonics

Mon Jarrahi, a professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Terahertz Electronics Laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles, has made significant contributions to the development of ultrafast optoelectronic devices and integrated systems for terahertz, infrared, and millimeter-wave sensing, imaging, computing, and communication systems. Her groundbreaking approach utilizes novel materials, nanostructures, and quantum well structures as well as innovative plasmonic and optical concepts. Among her contributions, the plasmonic time-domain spectroscopy and imaging technology that she pioneered has revolutionized terahertz sensing and imaging systems by enabling the practical use of terahertz waves for scientific and industrial applications that were not previously possible. This breakthrough technology, recognized by many awards from entities as wide-ranging as Popular Mechanics magazine and the West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics, has been commercialized by Lookin, a startup company that Jarrahi cofounded. Lookin manufactures high-performance terahertz scanners for various inspection and quality control applications in medical, energy, and pharmaceutical industries.

The recipient of multiple awards over her career — including the Watanabe Excellence in Research Award from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Sharif University of Technology’s Distinguished Alumni Award; the Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s Innovations in Regulatory Science Award; and a Catalyzing Pediatric Innovation Grant — Jarrahi has served as a member of the SPIE Fellows and Membership Committees and participated energetically in the SPIE Visiting Lecturer program since 2015. She has chaired various conferences at SPIE Photonics Europe, SPIE Photonics West, and SPIE Optics + Photonics, and has served as the SPIE Student Chapter advisor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and UCLA.

“What distinguishes Professor Jarrahi’s technical contributions from many of her peers is their direct impact on people’s lives by offering practical solutions to some long-lasting problems in healthcare, industrial quality control, and environmental sustainability,” says Michael Shur, the Patricia W. and C. Sheldon Roberts Professor of Solid State Electronics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “One example is the terahertz scanner that she has commercialized for non-destructive inspection of dental laboratory products, which has significantly improved the yield of dental implants delivered by the clinician. Before her product, there was no systematic process available to control the quality of the fabricated dental laboratory restorations, prostheses, and appliances, leading to an elevated incidence of laboratory remakes and re-fabrications. Professor Jarrahi’s terahertz scanner has solved this important problem by detecting invisible defects, cracks, and flaws under the surface of the restorations and dental prosthesis as well as accurate measurement of the utilized coating layers. Her contribution to terahertz technology is simply game-changing and will have long-lasting impact.”

Meet the other 2022 SPIE Society Award winners.

Read more about Mona Jarrahi and the SPIE Harold E. Edgerton Award in High-Speed Optics.