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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Princeton University
  • Claire Gmachl
  • (609) 258-7489
Award Date:04/28/2006
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 14,967,492
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 30,647,888
  • FY 2011=$2,374,652
  • FY 2009=$110,000
  • FY 2016=$7,660
  • FY 2006=$3,017,555
  • FY 2013=$3,999,653
  • FY 2014=$2,666,435
  • FY 2015=$1,777,624
  • FY 2012=$4,023,965
  • FY 2010=$5,865,558
  • FY 2008=$3,499,653
  • FY 2007=$3,305,133
Start Date:05/01/2006
End Date:10/31/2016
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Engineering Research Center (ERC) on Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE)
Federal Award ID Number:0540832
DUNS ID:002484665
Parent DUNS ID:002484665
Program Officer:
  • Deborah Jackson
  • (703) 292-7499

Awardee Location

Street:Off. of Research & Proj. Admin.
Awardee Cong. District:12

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Princeton University
Street:Off. of Research & Proj. Admin.
Cong. District:12

Abstract at Time of Award

Intellectual merit: MIRTH will develop knowledge, technologies and engineering systems based on mid-infrared spectroscopy that will provide unprecedented optical and chemical sensing capabilities for environmental monitoring, homeland security and medical diagnostics. In five thrusts, MIRTH will invent and optimize tunable laser sources, detectors, and ultra-sensitive sensor systems, developing these devices to a maturity level characteristic of ubiquitous and affordable technologies. These devices, which take advantage of the underutilized mid-infrared spectrum, are made possible by the recent breakthrough inbentions in quantum cascade lasers and advances in cavity-enhanced optical metrology. MIRTH will accelerate the development of this nascent set of technologies, creating new tools for scientific research, industry and consumers across many fields and applications. MIRTH will demonstrate specific applications of mid-infrared lasers, sensors and systems through testbeds in environmental sensing - urban air quality control or carbon cycle chemistry - and in medical diagnostics - liver and kidney dysfunction or oxidative stress. These technologies will create better standards of living and improve our understanding of human physiology and the environment, thus helping to transform society, and creating new product lines for significant industry sectors, such as the semiconductor, test and measurement, chemical and pestro-chemical, and medical equipment sectors. Broader impacts: MIRTH's wide range of research and educational programs includes electrical, bio-, civil, and environmental engineering, physics, chemistry, as well as the medical sciences; the center's impact will reach from urban planning to space science, and from cell physiology to bedside patient care. MIRTH will provide a broadly interdisciplinary education in fields essential for the wealth and well-being of the nation. In an outreach strategy designed for maximal impact, MIRTH will develop education modules (K-12/14) and new undergraduate and graduate level courses that integrate research findings into the classroom. MIRTH will provide opportunities for students and teachers to gain research experience through summer internships (REU/RET), support science fairs, develop activities and exhibits for public Science Centers, produce feature films for public television, and Web-based communication tolls to disseminate the newfound knowledge. MIRTH's diversity strategy will amplify its core partners' existing LSAMP and AGEP programs by directly integrating their diverse student populations into MIRTH's core research, learning, training, and teaching activities. A vigorous student exchange program among the partners and with industry will optimize the students' propsects for career advancement. MIRTH will engage its faculty and staff in talent identification, career development, and mentoring. MIRTH's outreach and diversity programs are closely coupled with the research thrusts, enabling integrated teams that are diverse in gender, race, and ethnicity. By so doing, MIRTH will educate a new, diverse generation of engineering professionals for an internationally competitive workforce. MIRTH will conduct a dynamic industrial outreach program and deliver new expertise and "turn-key" prototypes for new product lines. MIRTH willpartner with government labs to provide unprecedented sensing capabilities for remote atmospheric monitoring and applications in homeland security.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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MIRTHE Faculty "See Activites & Findings" 4th Year Annual Report, v., 2010, p..

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Taking the next breath is as natural to human life as it is essential. Every minute of our lives we take it for granted that we breathe air in a clean, safe, and healthy environment. Nevertheless, this confidence is imperiled on many scales. As we live and work in enclosed spaces, indoor and outdoor pollution are valid concerns. Many metropolitan areas in the U.S. and  globally struggle with frequent episodes of air pollution such as ozone,  particulate matter, or air toxics. Large portions of the U.S. population live in areas that are in non-attainment of the air quality standards set by the Clean Air Act. Global warming caused by the increase in anthropogenic  greenhouse gases will have long term impact for generations to come, not only in the U.S. but also globally. Some of the most important tools for reducing these threats to a clean, safe, and healthy environment are the sensors, sensor systems, and sensor networks that detect the presence and quantify the amount of specific chemical trace gases, and allow locating their source, followed by monitoring of mitigation and compliance. Other important fields where chemical trace gas sensors have  transformational impact are industrial process and automotive monitoring, homeland security, and health, especially in breath analysis and non-invasive screening.
Intellectual Merit: Over its NSF-funded lifespan (2006 – 2016), the Engineering Research Center MIRTHE has developed new trace-gas sensing technologies – based on mid-infrared, Quantum Cascade laser spectroscopy and related techniques – that are high-performance, costeffective, and networked, and hence are capable of addressing the important system level needs and applications outlined above. MIRTHE graduates from NSF support as MIRTHE+, adding photonic sensors across all spectral ranges to its portfolio. MIRTHE’s sensors excel through their compactness, autonomy, networking capability, and fast time response. They fulfill the application requirements of trace chemical sensing on the individual point sensor, urban sensor network, remote sensor, and regional and global scale. In doing so, MIRTHE addressed the important societal challenges of securing a clean, safe, sustainable, and healthy environment, clean air to breathe and accessible healthcare on the national and global scale. MIRTHE’s research results were published in about 600 peer-reviewed publications and more than 450 peer reviewed conference proceedings, and were presented in more than 750 conferences. (Publications and presentations resulting from core funding).
Broader Impacts: Over its NSF-funded lifespan (2006 – 2016), MIRTHE educated students from K-12 (29,000 students contacted) to post-graduate and the general public about the important societal challenges of securing a clean, sustainable and safe environment, clean air to breathe and  accessible healthcare. MIRTHE’s learners – 72 post-docs, 201 graduate, and 132 undergraduate students – are motivated to address these issues for a better future, and know to address the concomitant challenges through their high quality engineering education, their habit of interdisciplinary and cross-institutional teamwork, and their firm grounding in realism resulting from practice with industry and other practitioners. MIRTHE’s student body consistently beat national averages on student diversity and inclusion. In collaboration with its industrial/ practitioner partners, MIRTHE developed prototype cost-effective, market-ready, mid-infrared sensing technologies, and transfers these technologies to them to result in new profitable product lines and new revenue streams for important industry sectors.  MIRTHE related industry went from almost non-existent to multiple (about 40) companies with core MIRTHE-related product lines and many (about 25) off-the shelf components, systems, and services. The graduated center MIRTHE+ will add a broader range of photonic sensing companies to its practitioner consortium.

Last Modified: 07/16/2018
Modified by: Claire Gmachl

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