Gao receives NSF CAREER Award for Optical Metasurface Research

Dr. Jie Gao, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has recently received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for young faculty members for her research “Flat Singular Optics: Generation and Detection of Optical Vortex Beams with Plasmonic Metasurfaces in Linear and Nonlinear Regimes.” The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award is the NSF's “most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

The current open research challenges in singular optics are how to generate pure vortices with broad bandwidth and polarization singular beams on chip, how to realize compact linear and nonlinear vortex beam converters, and what kind of device enables direct identification of vortex topological charges. Supported by this award, Dr. Gao will conduct research work to explore flat singular optics, generate singular optical beams in both linear and nonlinear regimes, as well as detect vortex beam orbital angular momentum with optoelectronic integration. The research paves the way for advancing many applications in optical communications, beam shaping and conversion, optoelectronic devices, and optical sensing images.

Gao joined the Missouri S&T faculty in 2012 from Columbia University, where she earned a Ph.D. in applied physics.  Dr. Gao has established the Nanophotonics Laboratory ( at Missouri S&T.  She has also received other prestigious research awards including the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Award in 2014 (

Gao will receive $500,011 over the next five years for this award.