Award Winner: John Lehman
The Rocky Mountain Eagle Awards are given annual to recognize outstanding achievements of Federal employees who have dedicated their careers to public service.
Suites of optical detectors, or transfer standards, are used at NMIs around the world to transfer calibrations from national standards to customer devices. By creating an optical detector with near perfect absorption spanning the deep ultraviolet to the far infrared, Dr. Lehman has in one bold move established the necessary technology to collapse an NMI's suite of transfer standards to a single standard.In a significant scientific breakthrough, Dr. Lehman has grown vertically aligned carbon nanotubes on a pyroelectric detector, achieving the world's darkest optical detector with near ideal performance over an unsurpassed range of wavelengths (less than 0.1 % reflectance over the wavelength range of 0.4 to 14 micrometers; less than 2.5 % reflectance over the wavelength range from 14 to 50 micrometers).  Carbon nanotubes offer ideal properties for thermal detector coatings, in part because they are efficient heat conductors. This novel nanotube detector is an essential step for improving the calibration of optical-fiber power meters, satellite-based sensors, and radiation sources, and is sought after by both industry and other National Metrology Institutes (NMIs), as evidenced by the over 30 references in the popular literature.
J. Lehman et al., "A Very Black Infrared Detector from Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes and Electric-field Poling of Lithium Tantalate." Nano Letts 10 (2010) 3261-3266.
Award Date: May 18, 2011