Laboratory for Nonlinear Optical Studies of Macromolecular Photonic Materials


Department of Physics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)




Please visit our Wiki page to learn more about each of our current research projects. A public version of our THz Wiki can be viewed through the NSF STC website on Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research.



Group Members

L. Michael Hayden, Director (410-455-3199,

Felipe Vallejo, Graduate research assistant, email Felipe

Catherine Rossbach, Undergraduate research assistant, email Catherine

Tim Pillsbury, Undergraduate research assistant, email Tim

Matthew Wilcox, Undergraduate research assistant, email Matt

Kim Berghaus, Undergraduate research assistant, email Kim


Former post-doctoral researchers

Dr. Won-Kook Kim, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Molecular modeling of nonlinear optical polymers (1998-2000)
Dr. Xuemei Zheng, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Electro-optic polymers in THz systems (2004-2007)

Dr. Xinchao Lu, Post-doctoral Research Associate, THz pump-probe experiments (2010-2011)
Dr. Paul Cunningham, Post-doctoral Research Associate, email Paul, Paul's personal webpage (2010)

Dr. Joseph Knab, Post-doctoral Research Associate, THz spectroscopy of nanoporous Si (2011-2013)


Former PhD students and dissertations

Shane C. Brower
“Activation Volumes Associated with Chromophore Reorientation in Corona Poled Polymers:  Their Physical Significance and Relationship to Stability” (1996) (Chair, Department of Physics, Grove City College)


Shane J. Strutz           
“Dopant Mobility and the Performance of Nonlinear Optical Polymers” (1999) (Section Head, Naval Research Lab, Washington, DC)


Alex M. Sinyukov
“Electro-optic Polymers for Terahertz Applications”, (2005) (Post-doctoral associate NJIT)


Megan Leahy
“Terahertz Spectroscopy and Molecular Modeling of Nonlinear Optical Polymers” (2006) (Staff scientist, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab)


Mark Stephen
“Remote Detection of Atmospheric Pressure Using a Fiber-Based Laser Transmitter and Laser Spectroscopy of the Oxygen A-Band” (2008) (Staff Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center)


Colin McLaughlin
“Electro-optic polymer devices for THz applications” (2010) (Staff Physicist, Naval Research Lab, Washington DC)


Paul Cunningham
“Optical pump-THz probe studies of semiconducting polymers” (2010) (NRC Postdoc, Naval Research Lab, Washington DC)


Felipe Vallejo
Currently studying the design and fabrication of nonlinear optical polymers waveguides for THz applications (2010- ).


Undergraduate Research Projects

Dan Kokron
Measured the electro-optic coefficients of a new accordion nonlinear optical polymer (1992-93).

Najeeb Mokal
(EE student)  Measured the thermal stability of the second order nonlinear optical susceptibility in a new accordion polymer (1993).

Ellen Talbot
Measured the thickness and index of various polymers using the prism waveguide technique (1993).

Todd Sprecher           
Constructed computer controlled second harmonic generation experiment to study thermal relaxation in polymers (1994).

Kennita Johnson
Automated existing optical experiments and constructed a new computer controlled experiment to measure the effects of crosslinking on the stability of nonlinear optical polymers (1995).

Kennita Johnson
Studied the effect of cross-linking density on the stability of a new nonlinear optical polymer synthesized by collaborators at Utah State University (1996).

Lance Chilcoat
(Woodlawn High School student)  Wrote computer programs to automate dielectric relaxation experiments (1996).

Michael Nilles
(Chemistry student)  Measured the electro-optic effect and four wave mixing diffraction efficiency in photorefractive polymers (1996-1997).

Drew Kowalevicz
Studied the effect of poling nonlinear optical polymers under hydrostatic pressure.  Measured the complex dielectric function of those polymers under applied pressure (1996-1998).

Reni Ayachitula
Studied the photochromic and photorefractive effect in dual use chromophores. (1999-2000).

Peter Lindahl
(Summer student from Syracuse University) Studied electro-optic effects in polymers. (2000)

Kristi Harris
Studied effects and applications of electrooptic and photorefractive polymers (1998-2001).

Anthony Hoffman
Studied nonlinear optical properties of organic and polymeric photonic materials. (2001-2004).

Joseph French
Developed computer program to analyze guided wave parameters for optical thin films.  Developed computer program to automate THz experiments.  Studied nonlinear optical properties of organic and polymeric photonic materials.  Used molecular modeling to study the poling efficiency in electro-optic dendrimers (2001-2005).

Peter Lindahl
(Summer student from Penn State University) Studied electro-optic effects in polymers. (2002-2003)

Eric Montgomery
Studied nonlinear optical properties of organic and polymeric photonic materials. (2003)

Devon Jackson
Studied nonlinear optical properties of organic and polymeric photonic materials. (2003-2004)

Andrea Abler
Studied nonlinear optical properties of organic and polymeric photonic materials. Developed an automated EO experiment.  Learned to operate a femtosecond, amplified Ti:Sapphire laser system.  (2003-2005)

Ryan Dorrill
Studied nonlinear optical properties of organic and polymeric photonic materials. (2005)

Sam Hedemann
Built interferometer to measure electro-optic coefficients in poled polymer thin films (2006).

Chris Najmi
Built interferometer to measure electro-optic coefficients in poled polymer thin films (2006).

Justin Sigley
Built new temperature controlled electric field poling apparatus for poling EO polymer films (2007).

Joseph Dulny
Investigating guest-host cooperativity in poled electro-optic polymers (2008-2009).

Ian Nolen
Built multiple-angle electro-optic experiment (2008-2009).

Cameron Howard
Studied charge blocking during electric field poling of EO polymer composites (2010).

Rachel Grissom
Studied ultra-short pulse formation in amplified fiber lasers and the effectiveness of atomic layer deposition (ALD) HfO2 films on dielectric breakdown in poled polymer devices (2010- ).

David Sweigart
the effectiveness of spin-coated sol-gel TiO2 films on dielectric breakdown in poled polymer devices (2010-2011).  Studied the effect of electric fields on charge carrier generation in semiconductor polymers using optical-pump THz-probe spectroscopy (2011-2012).  Used finite element methods to model THz generation in an electro-optic waveguide. (2012-2013).

Sharon Wall
Measured the dispersion of the refractive index in nonlinear optical polymers.  Measured the time-bandwidth product in amplified femtosecond laser systems. (2011-2012).

Tim Pillsbury

Studied quasi-phase matched optical rectification for THz generation in layered, electro-optic polymer films (2012-2013).

Soutry De

Integrated a closed-cycle helium refrigerator into our THz spectroscopy system (2011-1012).

Kim Berghaus

Studied periodic poling for frequency doubling and difference frequency generation of THz radiation (2011-2013).


Lab Tour


Typical student work spaces in the labs:

406C lab

406D lab


This is the THz lab:

**We have just installed a Coherent Duo USX (<25-fs, 6 mJ) system with an OperaSolo OPA**   This system is now producing 19-fs pulses!!!

Femtosecond lab

150 fs setup (Coherent MIRA/REGA amplified Ti:Sapphire system; 250 kHz, 3 µJ/pulse)

< 30 fs setup (Spectra-Physics/Kapteyn-Murnane amplified system; 1 kHz, 1000 µJ/pulse)

THz setup


This is the holography lab:

Holographically corrected telescope experiment


This is the materials characterization table:

Second harmonic generation (SHG) and electro-optic (EO) experiments



Random people and laser pics


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Cool laser shot

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Art deco laser lab

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Colin in clean room

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Colin and Paul hard at work

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Mei and Lisa

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Selected Publications



Ultrafast carrier dynamics in nanoporous Si (Optics Materials Express 2014)


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Design of ultra-broadband THz polymer waveguide emitters for telecom wavelengths by coupled mode theory (Optics Express 2013)

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Broadband spectroscopy of polymers in the 0-10 THz band  (J. Appl. Phys. 2011)

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Optical Properties of DAST in the THz range (Optics Express 2010)

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Charge carrier dynamics of metallated polymers characterized by optical-pump THz-probe spectroscopy (J. Phys. Chem. B 2009)

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Wideband 15-THz response using organic electrooptic emitter-sensor pairs at telecommunication wavelengths (Appl. Phys. Lett. 2008)

Carrier dynamics resulting from above and below gap excitation of P3HT and P3HT/PCBM investigated by optical-pump terahertz-probe spectroscopy (J. Phys. Chem. C 2008)

Comparison of parallel-plate and in-plane poled polymer films for terahertz sensing (Appl. Opt. 2007)

Terahertz scattering from granular material (JOSA B 2007)

Hybrid EO modulator (Nature Photonics 2007)

Organic broadband terahertz sources and sensors (J. Nanoelect. Optoelect. 2007)

Wideband terahertz spectroscopy of explosives (Chem. Phys. Lett. 2007)

Modeling a broadband THz system based on an EO polymer emitter-sensor pair (JOSA B 2006)

Broadband and gap-free response of a terahertz system based on a poled polymer emitter-sensor pair (Appl. Phys. Lett. 2005)

Resonance enhanced THz generation from EO polymers (Appl. Phys. Lett. 2005)

New materials for optical rectification and EO sampling (J. Polym. Sci. B: Phys. Ed. 2003)

Efficient EO polymers for THz applications (J. Phys. Chem. 2004)

THz generation and detection using multilayered EO polymer films (Optics Letters 2002)


Molecular modeling:

Atomistic modeling of electric field poling of NLO polymers (J. Chem. Phys. 1999)

Atomistic molecular modeling of the effect of chromophore concentration on the EO coefficient in nonlinear optical polymers (J. Phys. Chem. A, 2006)


Nonlinear optics:

Maker fringes for absorbing and birefringent media (JOSA B 1995)


Holography in polymers:

Simultaneous, co-located photorefractive and multiplexed photochromic gratings in polymer films (Appl. Phys. Lett. 1999)

Dual use chromophores for dynamic and permanent holography (Appl. Opt. 2001)