Connie Chang-Hasnain named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

December 11, 2018
By: Linda Vu
Connie Chang-Hasnain
Connie Chang-Hasnain. Photo by Noah Berger.

Electrical engineering and computer sciences professor Connie Chang-Hasnain has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), an organization that champions the societal benefits of university research.

Chang-Hasnain’s research interests range from semiconductor optoelectronic devices to materials and physics. At the moment, her focus is on vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) and arrays, nanophotonic materials and devices. Her inventions have helped to establish VCSELs as the dominant technology for datacenter optical fiber communications, optical coherent tomography and 3D sensing. Last year, Chang-Hasnain was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for her contributions to wavelength tunable diode lasers and multi-wavelength laser arrays. In addition, she was honored with the 2018 Okawa Prize for her “pioneering and outstanding research of VCSEL photonics through the development of their novel functions for optical communications and optical sensing.”

One of her most notable inventions is the integration of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and VCSEL, which created a new class of continuously tunable and sweptable lasers. The MEMS-VCSEL enabled optical 3D imaging systems to achieve high-resolution over a larger field of view and makes possible observations of features that were not attainable otherwise. The impact of this body of work can be seen in a vast number of applications for biomedical and pharmaceutical analysis, sensing applications and datacenter fiber communications.

“Professor Chang-Hasnain exemplifies the scientist who operates at the nexus of teaching, research and entrepreneurship for the betterment of society. She has shed light on ways to manage demands of the academy with bringing use-inspired inventions to market both here and abroad,” said Carol Mimura, UC Berkeley’s assistant vice chancellor for intellectual property and industry research alliances.

Chang-Hasnain is one of 148 academic inventors named as NAI fellows this year. Her cohort includes more than 25 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes; 5 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science; and 3 Nobel Laureates, among other awards and distinctions.