Im, Neumark, and Osgood Featured in Science and Technology Ventures

For more than 25 years, scientists at Columbia have developed groundbreaking technologies that have been commercialized and have immeasurably improved the lives of many people.

Columbia University’s Science and Technology Ventures (STV), an organization responsible for transferring inventions and innovative knowledge from Columbia to external organizations, recently featured Prof. James Im, Prof. Gertrude Neumark, and Prof. Richard Osgood in their latest "New Inventions/New Discoveries" report.

Sequential Lateral Solidification

James Im
Professor of Materials Science and Metallurgy
Director of the Materials Science and Engineering Program

Invented by Columbia professor James Im, this discovery describes a laser process capable of generating the optimal crystalline material - something that can lead to lower cost and higher performance macroelectronic devices. Prof. Im’s method, called Sequential Lateral Solidification (SLS), is based on his fundamental breakthrough in understanding how a substance is rapidly melted and solidified. The result is that silicon-based transistors can be put on inexpensive and transparent glass or plastic substrates, replacing the silicon wafers previously used. The new material can be used to create a variety of devices, from solar cells to thin film transistors for flat panel displays built on glass or plastic sheets. (In theory, the discovery may eventually allow for an entire computer to be put on a sheet of glass or plastic.) Top display makers, including L.G. Philips LCD Co., Ltd., and Samsung, have already licensed this technology. The innovation is also applicable to smart cards, RFIDs, image sensors, and three-dimensional integrated circuit devices.

Blue LEDs

Gertrude Neumark
Howe Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and
Professor of Applied Physics

Columbia professor Gertrude Neumark is one of the world’s foremost experts on doping wide-band semi-conductors and holds a number of U.S. and foreign patents that claim a process for the manufacture of “hard to dope” semiconductors. The process claimed in the patents is used by commercial manufacturers of blue semiconductor diode lasers and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Doping is the process of adding impurities to semiconductors in order to provide better conductivity.

Prof. Neumark patented a process that is applicable to any wideband gap material. In particular, her work applied to gallium nitride semi-conductors, where work on these materials has resulted in one of the most important breakthroughs in electronics and optoelectronics of recent years. GaN-based LEDs have begun replacing traditional light bulbs in traffic lights and are likely to gain an ever-increasing market share for many other lightening applications. GaN-based blue lasers allow data storage with much higher density than tra- ditional red lasers. In addition, there are many less obvious applications in medical fields including diagnostics, among others.

Prof. Neumark has reached agreements with a number of companies including most recently Toyoda Gosei, for worldwide rights under a number of patents held by her.

New Photonics Software and Partnership with RSoft Design Group, an Industry Leader

Richard Osgood, Jr.
Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics
& Robert Scarmozzino
CEO and CTO of RSoft Design Group

Photonics is a short-hand name for a variety of practical, emerging technologies that use light instead of electrons to carry out a variety of “high-tech” applications such as in communications and controlling data flow. For example, photonics technology has increasingly become a full partner with electronics in making faster electronics systems such as special-purpose super-computers. It is already being used in certain applications, such as ultrahigh-speed data transmission in long-distance telephone links, which utilize light waves sent through fiber-optics cables. Now industry watchers are predicting that, in the future, photonic devices will become increasingly important as a means of sending ultrahigh-bit-rate signals on and off chips or even across chips. Photonics has important advantages for this ultrahigh data rate role due to the ease with which multiple optical signals can be carried by its extremely broad “spectral” bandwidth.

This and other applications require that the design of photonics systems be carried out in a manner similar to that of electronics – that is with the use of computer-aided design (CAD) and simulation. Columbia University has been fortunate to have been an incubator for the premier international firm in the area of integrated pho- tonic design and simulation tools, namely RSoft Design Group, head quartered in Ossining, NY ( The first tool in this area was BeamPROP, a sophisticated design package that enables one to solve the Helmholtz equation as an initial value problem and thus predict and design a complex integrated photonics layout.

Developed in Columbia labs by Dr. Robert Scarmozzino, a senior research scientist working with Prof. Richard Osgood who received his Ph.D. from APAM in 1987 in Plasma Physics, this software program has become the worldwide leading design tool in the area of photonics. BeamPROP, one of the earliest tools in photonics computer-aided design, has provided the necessary foundation for the development of the industry. Dr. Scarmozzino co-founded RSoft in 1990 and licensed the technology from Columbia in 1993. The software has been commercially available since 1994 and is in use by leading researchers and development engineers in university and industrial environments worldwide.

The Columbia University Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Department has played a major role in the intellectual and personnel resources of RSoft. In addition to Dr. Scarmozzino and Prof. Osgood, the company has drawn in two Columbia APAM Ph.D.s, Zheng-Yu Huang (currently VP for International Sales and Business Development) and Hong-Ling Rao, as well as many other scientists and engineers from within the Department and from other depart- ments at Columbia. RSoft has been an important partner in several major joint Columbia University/Industry sponsored research programs. Columbia has also worked with RSoft to preview other software packages such a FullWAVE, a finite difference time domain computation system, BandSOLVE, a photonic-crystal band-structure solver, DiffractMOD, a rigorous-coupled wave analysis package, and FemSIM, a finite-element mode solver. These software tools have played a major role in the international and US development of nanoscale optical phenomena for use in photonics systems.

500 W. 120th St., Mudd 200, MC 4701 New York, NY 10027 / Phone: 212-854-4457 / Fax: 212-854-8257 / Email:

©2012 Columbia University