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Robert Alfano

Robert Alfano


Ultrafast laser physics

Biomedical optics

Nonlinear optics

Optical imaging

City College of New York
Department of Physics
160 Convent Avenue, MR-419

New York , NY 10031
Office Phone: (212) 650-5531


  1. New York University, Ph.D. Physics, 1972
  2. Fairleigh Dickinson University, M.S. Physics, 1964
  3. Fairleigh Dickinson University, B.S. Physics, 1963


Robert Alfano is a Distinguished Professor of Science and Engineering at the City College of CUNY, where he has been a faculty member in the Department of Physics since 1972. Prior to joining the City College, Dr. Alfano was a Research Physicist at GTE Research Laboratories, 1964-1972. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from New York University in 1972, and his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Physics from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1963 and 1964, respectively. He is a Fellow of American Physical Society, Optical Society of America, and IEEE. He is director of CCNY’s Institute of Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers.

Robert Alfano has been involved in developing ultrafast laser spectroscopic techniques and applications of these techniques to study ultrafast dynamical processes in physical, chemical, and biological systems. His research encompasses the study and development of supercontinuum, tunable solid-state lasers, nonlinear optical processes, application of optical spectroscopic techniques for medical diagnosis (optical biopsy), study of photon migration in turbid media, and development of optical imaging techniques for biomedical imaging (optical mammography). He has published more than 700 papers and holds 102 patents. He has mentored 50 Ph.D. students.

• Optical Phonon Lifetime Measured Directly with Picosecond Pulses, R. R. Alfano and S. L. Shapiro, Phys. Rev. Lett. 26, 1247 (1971).
• Establishment of a Molecular Vibration Decay Route in Liquid, R. R. Alfano and S. L. Shapiro, Phys. Rev. Lett. 29, 1655 (1972).
• Observation of Self-Phase Modulation and Small Scale Filaments in Crystals and Glasses, R. R. Alfano, and S. L. Shapiro, Phys. Rev. Lett. 24, 592 (1970).
• Laser Action in Cr-activated Forsterite for Near Infrared Excitation: Is Cr4+ the Lasing Ion? V. Petricevic, S. K. Gayen, R. R. Alfano, Appl. Phys. Lett. 53, 2590 (1988).
• Generation of sub-100-fs Pulses from a CW Mode-locked Chromium-doped Forsterite Laser, A. Seas, V. Petricevic, R. R. Alfano, Opt. Lett. 17, 937 (1992).
• Primary Decay Pathway of a Local Mode of a Photoexcited Ion into a Dielectric Crystal Host Lattice, S. G. Demos, Dana M. Calistru, S. Owen, A. B. Bykov, V. Petricevic, R. R. Alfano, Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2556 (1999).
• Photoluminescent Determination of the Fundamental Gap for the Ferromagnetic Semiconductor CdCr2Se4, S. S. Yao, F. Pellegrino, R. R. Alfano, W. J. Miniscalco, and A. Lempicki, Phys. Rev. Lett. 46, 558 (1981).
• Laser Induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy from Native Cancerous and Normal Tissue, R. R. Alfano, D.B. Tata, J. Cordero, P. Tomashefsky, F. W. Longo, and M. A. Alfano, IEEE J. Quant. Elec. QE-20, 1507 (1984). (“Optical Biopsy”)
• Time-resolved Imaging of Translucent Droplets in Highly Scattering Turbid Media, R. R. Alfano, X. Liang, L. Wang, P. P. Ho, Science 264, 1913 (1994). (“Optical Mammography”)
• Subsurface Tumor Progression investigated by Noninvasive Optical Second Harmonic Tomography, Y. Guo, H. E. Savage, Feng Liu, S. P. Schantz, P. P. Ho, R. R. Alfano, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 96, 10854 (1999).
• When does the Diffusion Approximation Fail to Describe Photon Transport in Random Media? K. M. Yoo, Feng Liu, R. R. Alfano, Phys. Rev. Lett. 64, 2647 May (1990).
• Time Resolved Coherent and Incoherent Components of Forward Light Scattering in Random Media, K.M. Yoo, R. R. Alfano, Opt. Lett. 15, 320 (1990).
• Optical Kerr Effect, P. P. Ho and R. R. Alfano, Phys. Rev. A20, 2170 (1979).
• Ballistic 2-D Imaging Through Scattering Walls Using an Ultrafast Optical Kerr Gate, L. Wang, P. P. Ho, C. Liu, G. Zhang, R. R. Alfano, Science 253, 769 (1991). (“Time-Resolved Imaging”)

SELECTED PATENTS (102 patents)
• Picosecond spectrometer using picosecond continuum, R. R. Alfano and S. L. Shapiro, US Patent #3,782,828 (January 1, 1974).
• Laser Action in Chromium-doped Forsterite, V. Petricevic, S. K. Gayen, R. R. Alfano, US Patent #4,932,031 (June 5, 1990).
• Method and Apparatus for Detecting Cancerous Tissue using Luminescence Excitation Spectra, R. R. Alfano, US Patent #5,042,494, (August 27, 1991).
• Ultrafast Optical Imaging of Objects in a Scattering Medium, R. R. Alfano, P. P. Ho, L. Wang, US Patent #5,371,368, (December 6, 1994).
• Imaging of Objects Based upon the Polarization or Depolarization of Light, R. R. Alfano, S. G. Demos, US Patent #5,847,394, (December 8, 1998).
• Time-resolved diffusion tomographic 2D and 3D imaging in highly scattering turbid media, R. R. Alfano, W. Cai, S. K. Gayen, US Patent #6,108,576, (August 22, 2000).
• Non-linear optical tomography of turbid media, R. R. Alfano, Y. Guo, F. Liu, P. P. Ho, US Patent #6,208,886 B1, (March 27, 2001).
• Methods of Detecting Cancerous Tissue using Visible Native Luminescence, R. R. Alfano and M. A. Alfano, #4,930,516 (June 5, 1990).

SELECTED GRANTS (150 grants totaling over $44 million)
• Time-resolved and Spectroscopic Three-dimensional Optical Breast Tomography, Army (AMRMC), 2004 - 2007, $697,863
• Prostate Cancer Detection Using Near Infrared Spectral Polarization Imaging; Army 2001 - 2004, $536,956
• Tunable High Efficiency Resonant Tunneling GaN/AlGaN MQW UV Photodetectors, AFOSR 2001 – 2004, $599,846
• New York State Infotonics Center of Excellence Compact Photonic Explorers, Infotonics Technology Center Inc. 2002 - 2004, $1,357,451
• Center for Optical Sensing and Imaging NASA 2003 - 2008, $5,998,566
• Center for Nanoscale Photonic Emitters and Sensors (CNPES), DoD 2003 - 2008, $4,000,000

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