Addicted to love: 'Crave' deals strange Valentine

February 12, 2012

You might as well face it: You're looking for something to do on Valentine's Day.

Look no further than the art galleries on ASU's Tempe campus, where two new student-curated art exhibits open Feb. 13 with receptions from 6 to 8 p.m., Feb. 14. Download Full Image

Powerful and mesmerizing is how ASU's Jeanné (Juno) Schaser describes Crave: The Art of Dependency – a national group exhibition that looks at the phenomenon of addiction through various media.

Curator of the exhibit, Schaser says the idea came to her last semester when she took a course about gallery exhibitions from faculty associate Peter Bugg and was required to create a proposal for a gallery show. She began work on a concept for an exhibition about a compulsion of her own.

"I've had a lot of firsthand experience with watching others struggle with various addictions, and it made me realize that we're all, in one way or another, dependent on things that may be bad for us – whether they're substances, activities, or even relationships," says Schaser, a junior in the School of Art, within ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. "That's one of the complexities of addiction, and one of the things that I'm strangely fascinated with."

Schaser decided to submit her exhibition proposal to the campus gallery committee and was selected to curate the show at the Step Gallery. About half of the work comprising Crave originates from student artists at ASU, including graduate students. A few other pieces, Schaser says, are owned by another campus gallery – the Northlight Gallery – known for its huge collection of photography.

"It's because of Northlight that I'm actually able to include pieces from artists like Larry Clark, whose documentary photography work about addiction in the 70s was really groundbreaking," says Schaser, whose well-received call for artwork is evident in the array of artists participating in the show, from university professors to college students in art programs in New York and Connecticut.

And because of the profoundly personal nature of addiction, Schaser says the work is highly moving.

"Within every piece of art that's in this show, there's something at stake," she says. "A lot of the work is very personal for these artists – and the addiction that they're making work about may not be one that's their own or even one that's readily apparent. But they all share a common denominator. It's really powerful."  

A photography and museum studies double-major, Schaser was handed a camera when she was 7 years old. "It was a cheap, plastic 35mm camera. I mostly took pictures of my cats," she recalls. "When I was 10 or 12, my dad gave me a digital camera. I love photography. I think I've always wanted to take pictures of things."

Schaser says she would like to work in a museum after graduation, and curating Crave certainly is a great step toward achieving that goal.

"It's sort of ironic that the show is opening on Valentine's Day," Schaser says. "It wasn't something I requested, but maybe the gallery committee has a sense of humor. Compulsion and addiction seem like good themes for a holiday about love and relationships. Because people can, of course, be addicted to love."

When asked what her worst Valentine's Day experience was, Schaser says nervously: "This one could potentially be it – if things go wrong." Schaser adds: "I never had valentines. Maybe this year I will get flowers."

For your viewing pleasure, Crave is on display at the Step Gallery through Feb. 17.

In another group exhibition opening Feb. 14, Night Science is a collection of photography works and will be on display at Gallery 100 through Feb. 17.

Sean Deckert, co-curator of the show, says the exhibition's name came out of a conversation he had with Christopher Colville, a visiting professor of photography at ASU, about the term "night science."

Deckert refers to Francois Jacob's "The Statue Within," which describes night science as another approach to discovery that is opposite "day science." While day science involves reasoning and certainty, "night science, on the contrary, wanders in the dark," Jacob writes.

The way in which artists approach the mechanical camera – "as a tool for discovery," Deckert says – is the focus of the show.

"I photograph what I don't easily understand: my life, myself, and my relationships – the way we relate to one another and my perceptions," says ASU's Natalie Seils, whose work is featured in the show.

Deckert and Seils join other ASU photography students Brittany Chiodo, Andrew Farquhar, Kelly McNutt, Katelin Roberts, Amanda Green and Amy Dickson in collectively representing their skills and experience in the exhibition.

Night Science is essentially an experiment in the dark – the endless search for answers that might be best understood through one's instinct rather than one's logic. If that's not romantic then I'm not sure what is.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

New nano-material combinations produce leap in infrared technology

February 13, 2012

Arizona State University researchers are finding ways to improve infrared photodetector technology that is critical to national defense and security systems, as well as used increasingly in medical diagnostics, commercial applications and consumer products.

A significant advance is reported in a recent article in the journal Applied Physics Letters. It details discovery of how infrared photodetection can be done more effectively by using certain materials arranged in specific patterns in atomic-scale structures. night-vision infrared photodetection system Download Full Image

It’s being accomplished by using multiple ultrathin layers of the materials that are only several nanometers thick. Crystals are formed in each layer. These layered structures are then combined to form what are termed “superlattices.”

Photodetectors made of different crystals absorb different wavelengths of light and convert them into an electrical signal. The conversion efficiency achieved by these crystals determines a photodectector’s sensitivity and the quality of detection it provides, explains electrical engineer Yong-Hang Zhang.

The unique property of the superlattices is that their detection wavelengths can be broadly tuned by changing the design and composition of the layered structures. The precise arrangements of the nanoscale materials in superlattice structures helps to enhance the sensitivity of infrared detectors, Zhang says.

Zhang is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is leading the work on infrared technology research in ASU’s Center for Photonics Innovation. More information can be found at the center’s Optoelectronics Group website.

Additional research in this area is being supported by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and a new Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program established by the U.S. Army Research Office.  ASU is a partner in the program led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The MURI program is enabling Zhang’s group to accelerate its work by teaming with David Smith, a professor in the Department of Physics in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Shane Johnson, a senior research scientist in the ASU’s engineering schools.

The team is using a combination of indium arsenide and indium arsenide antimonide to build the superlattice structures. The combination allows devices to generate photo electrons necessary to provide infrared signal detection and imaging, says Elizabeth Steenbergen, an electrical engineering doctoral student who performed experiments on the supperlattice materials with collaborators at the Army Research Lab.

“In a photodetector, light creates electrons. Electrons emerge from the photodetector as electrical current. We read the magnitude of this current to measure infrared light intensity,” she says.

“In this chain, we want all of the electrons to be collected from the detector as efficiently as possible. But sometimes these electrons get lost inside the device and are never collected,” says team member Orkun Cellek, an electrical engineering postdoctoral research associate.

Zhang says the team’s use of the new materials is reducing this loss of optically excited electrons, which increases the electrons’ carrier lifetime by more than 10 times what has been achieved by other combinations of materials traditionally used in the technology. Carrier lifetime is a key parameter that has limited detector efficiency in the past.  

Another advantage is that infrared photodetectors made from these superlattice materials don’t need as much cooling. Such devices are cooled as a way of reducing the amount of unwanted current inside the devices that can “bury” electrical signals, Zhang says.

The need for less cooling reduces the amount of power needed to operate the photodetectors, which will make the devices more reliable and the systems more cost effective.

Researchers say improvements can still be made in the layering designs of the intricate superlattice structures and in developing device designs that will allow the new combinations of materials to work most effectively.

The advances promise to improve everything from guided weaponry and sophisticated surveillance systems to industrial and home security systems, the use of infrared detection for medical imaging and as a road-safety tool for driving at night or during sand storms or heavy fog.

“You would be able to see things ahead of you on the road much better than with any headlights,” Cellek says.

The research team’s paper is reported on in the article “One giant leap for IR technology” on the LAB & FAB TALK website of Compound Semiconductor magazine.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering