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Mid InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment Engineering Research Center

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Engineering Research Center (ERC) on Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE)  (Princeton University)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Engineering Research Center on Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) develops knowledge, technologies, and engineered systems based on mid-infrared (mid-IR) trace-gas spectroscopy that will provide unprecedented optical and chemical sensing capabilities for environmental monitoring, homeland security and medical diagnostics. MIRTHE advances mid-IR Quantum Cascade lasers, detectors, and ultrasensitive sensor systems for point and remote sensing to a maturity level that will support ubiquitous and affordable technologies while demonstrating specific applications through testbeds in environmental sensing, security, and medical screening. These technologies will promote better standards of living, improve understanding of human physiology and the environment, and enhance medical capabilities in the treatment of serious diseases. In the process, MIRTHE will transform society by opening up new avenues to a cleaner, safer environment and improved health care, while creating new product lines for the semiconductor, test & measurement, and chemical, petrochemical, and medical equipment industries. 

MIRTHE provides its students with a broadly interdisciplinary education in fields essential for the future economic health of our nation, such as materials and device science, nanotechnology, fundamentals of sensing, optoelectronic systems design and manufacturing, environmental chemistry, climate research, medical diagnostics, homeland security and technology policy. An outreach strategy designed for maximal impact develops education modules, exhibits, and web-based learning tools to disseminate the newfound knowledge to the engineering community and the public at large. MIRTHE’s diversity strategy involves center faculty and dedicated staff engaged in mentoring and early career training of women and underrepresented and disabled faculty, staff, and students. MIRTHE’s outreach and diversity programs are closely coupled with the Center’s research thrusts, enabling vertically integrated teams that are diverse in gender, race, and ethnicity. By these means, MIRTHE educates and delivers a new and diverse generation of engineering professionals for an internationally competitive workforce. 

Education & Outreach

With faculty and industry participation spread across a wide spectrum of disciplines, MIRTHE provides unprecedented opportunities to build an intellectually fascinating learning environment that is rich in real-world challenges and complex systems solutions, while fostering a student body that is diverse in gender, race, and ethnicity. MIRTHE’s education and outreach programs are designed to reach students, teachers, and practitioners across a broad range of interests as well as the public at large. MIRTHE is an engine of teaching and learning, nurturing and graduating a large number of highly trained, diverse young professionals in the fields of environmental monitoring, homeland security, and health diagnostics—all areas of significant national interest—putting in place a pipeline for workforce development in mid-IR technologies that will remain beyond the life cycle of the Center. 

MIRTHE employs dedicated staff who, in close collaboration with center faculty and students, develop, implement, and monitor the education and diversity outreach programs at all educational and professional levels: K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and the public. MIRTHE embodies a process that captures student interest at all levels, integrates them into the MIRTHE research community, develops their talents and careers, and promotes their transition into the workforce. The Center’s educational and outreach programs can be divided into two broad categories: 

MIRTHE Academy”—Year-round, multi-year core programs that primarily serve the students involved in conducting research and taking courses with MIRTHE faculty and industrial outreach partners, and that are aimed at long-term career and workforce development. Programs include strategic partnerships with Louis B. Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) institutions, new course and curriculum development, workshops, active student exchange among partner organizations and internationally, involvement with industry, and strategic junior faculty appointments.

Educational Outreach and Informal Education—Outreach projects are geared to reach a much broader audience with maximum impact, including learning and information modules for K-12, support of science fairs, research experience for high school students, summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) programs, and informal education programs. These programs also act as “feeders” for MIRTHE’s diverse core student body.

MIRTHE Web Site 

Engineering Research Centers (ERC) 

ERC Achievements Showcase


  • Image from a National Science Foundation-funded ERC.
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