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Dr. Sharon Weiss


Professor Sharon Weiss is a Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics, and Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. She received her Ph.D. degree in Optics at the University of Rochester. Her areas of interest include silicon photonics, biosensors, and hybrid nanomaterials. Professor Weiss’s honors and awards include the PECASE, NSF CAREER, ARO Young Investigator, and IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished lecturer award. She is a fellow of OSA and SPIE.

PhD Students

Francis Afzal - ZoomFrancis Afzal

Francis received his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from Truman State University. During his undergraduate studies, he completed undegraduate research in photonics with the Veronis group at Louisiana State University and Gangopadhyay group at University of Missouri – Columbia. Francis is currently pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering, with research focused on nano-scale silicon photonics and photonic crystal devices. Francis enjoys research rich in theory and design and has pursued projects which straddle the interface of academic and industry interests, including collaborations with industry partners Triton Inc., Sensera Inc. and GlobalFoundries.

Captain AllenJoshua Allen

Josh received his B.S. in physics from Austin Peay State University in 2018. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D in the Interdisciplinary Material Science (IMS) program at Vanderbilt University studying photonic crystals and metamaterials for optical trapping and communication.


Tengfei CaoTengfei Cao

Tengfei received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Fudan University in 2015. He is now pursuing a Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program at Vanderbilt University. His current research is focused on porous silicon based biosensing devices.


ZhongyuanZhongyuan Fu

Zhongyuan received his B.S. in Information and Communication engineering from Beijing University of posts and telecommunications (BUPT) in 2014. He is now pursuing a Ph.D in Information and Communication engineering  and doing research at Vanderbilt university as a visiting student. His current research is focused on photonic crystal sensing devices.

Group_Spring_18_croppedtoSamSami Halimi

Sam received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Lipscomb University in 2016. He is pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering, and his current research interests include FDTD simulation and silicon photonics/photonic crystals with applications in optical communication.


RabebRabeb Layouni
Rabeb received her B.A in Chemistry from Mount Holyoke College in 2016 and her B. Sc degree in Chemical Engineering from UMass Amherst in 2017. She is currently a PhD student in Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on porous silicon based biosensor device design and fabrication.
Landen RyderLanden Ryder

Landen received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama in 2016. Pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering, he is currently working on the correlation of laser and ion induced effects in semiconductor devices and materials.


Undergraduate Members

HayatHayat Abdurahman
Hayat is a rising sophomore at CCBC, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. This summer, as a VINSE REU student, she is working on antifouling techniques to make use of porous silicon-based optical biosensors in a complex medium.


Brendan GriggsBrendan Grigg
Brendan is a rising junior at Vanderbilt University, majoring in chemical engineering. This summer he is investigating patterned nanoporous gold as an effective template for surface enhanced Raman scattering.


AhsanulMohammad Ahsanul Kabir
Ahsanul is a rising senior at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Electrical Engineering as a dual degree (3-2 engineering) student. He is investigating high-speed signal modulation using hybrid silicon-vanadium dioxide photonic devices.


ZiboZibo Gong
Zibo is a rising senior at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, majoring in Opto-Electronic Information Science and Technology. This summer, he is participating in the VUSE Summer Research Program and is conducting research on photonic crystal design, simulation, and fabrication.

View past group members

Past Members

Joshua Fain, Ph.D. (2019): Joshua received his B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2012. Prior to this he received a B.S. in recording industry with an emphasis in production and technology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2006. Joshua’s current research interests include metal-oxide functionalized porous Si for energy storage, piezoelectric, and memristor applications.

Moinul Choudhury: Moinul did his B.Sc in Chemistry from Shah Jalal University of Science and Technology and then moved to South Korea to pursue his M.Eng in Polymer Science and Engineering. He then completed his PhD in Chemistry from the University of New South Wales in 2014. Currently, he is investigating the surface molecule interactions on nanostructures as a postdoctoral research scholar.

Caitlin Carfano: Caitlin was a ViNSE REU student from The George Washington University pursuing a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Her research interests include biosensing and two-dimensional materials.

Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (2018): Kevin received his B.S. in physics from Valparaiso University in May of 2013. Pursuing his PhD in the Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program, he is currently working on hybrid silicon photonic modulators and detectors.

Vijayashree Parsi Sreenivas, M.S. (2017):  V.J. received her B.Sc in Electronics from Bangalore University, India. Later she received M.Sc in Electrical Engineering from National Univeristy of Singapore. She is pursuing her Phd in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Vanderbilt University. Her current research focus is on fabrication and characterization of two dimensional bowtie photonic crystal structures.

Yiliang Zhao, Ph.D. (2017): Yiliang received her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Nanjing University, China. She is now pursuing a Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program at Vanderbilt University. After completing her research rotations, Yiliang joined the Weiss group in 2011. Her current research focuses on porous silicon based optical biosensing devices.

Shuren Hu, Ph.D. (2016): Shuren Hu received his B.S degree in Physics from Shandong University, and his M.S degree in Condensed Matter Physics from Beijing University of Technology, China. His research interests include high sensitivity optical sensors based on photonic crystal, FDTD simulations, device physics and fabrication.

Kelsey (Beavers) Mayo, Ph.D. (2016): Kelsey attended the Georgia Institute of Technology earning a B.S. in Material Science Engineering in 2011. At Georgia Tech, she worked with Dr. Lawrence Bottomley on the characterization of silver nanorod arrays for use as DNA hybridization assays. Her current research is a collaboration between the Weiss and Duvall labs at Vanderbilt and involves engineering porous silicon nanoparticles for the delivery of gene therapies such as peptide nucleic acid (PNA).

Gilbert Rodriguez, Ph.D. (2016): Gilbert graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D., focusing his research on the analysis of integrated photonic devices on waveguide and Bloch surface wave porous silicon substrates with applications in biosensing.

Jeremy Mares, Ph.D. (Post-Doc): Jeremy earned his PhD in optical science from the CREOL/The College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida and joined the Weiss group in 2010 as a post-doctoral researcher. His current work is focused on novel applications of metal oxide-hybridized porous silicon including pseudocapacitor energy storage devices, memristive circuit elements and nanoparticle-based drug delivery technologies. In prior research he has carried out fundamental investigations in material and device physics including studies of metal oxide semiconductors for visible and UV optoelectronics, molecular diffusion in mesoporous thin films, radiation hardness of quantum dot laser structures, and ultrafast laser material ablation.

Girija Gaur, Ph.D. (2015): Girija completed her B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunications from Pune University, India and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University, SC. Her work focuses on the integration of colloidal QDs with silicon devices for optical biosensors and high energy radiation sensors. In general, her interests lie in light-matter interactions, applied physics, and silicon photonics for emerging applications.

Suruj Deka: Suruj is currently an undergraduate majoring in electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University. He is also participating in an accelerated program whereby he will receive his master’s degree along with his bachelors when he graduates. His research in the group deals with studying memristance phenomena in titanium dioxide-porous silicon nanocomposites. Suruj loves playing soccer and often leaves labmate Kevin red-faced on the soccer field (this never happened).

Petr Markov, Ph.D. (2015): Originally from Saint-Petersburg Russia, Peter received his B.S. in electrical engineering from University of Tennessee at Martin. Currently a PhD student, he is working on hybrid vanadium dioxide- silicon electro-optic modulators.

Shweta Bhandaru, Ph.D. (2015): Shweta completed her BE in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Osmania University, India in 2002 and MS in Electrical Engineering from University of Texas at Arlington, Texas in 2005. After working as an Etch process Engineer at Infineon Technologies, Richmond, Virginia, she is currently pursuing PhD in Material Science at Vanderbilt. Her current research includes studying the impact of radiation on silicon and silicon based materials for optical dosimeters.

Kun Qin, M.S. (2014): Kun Qin received his B.E. in Optoelectronic Engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. He joined Dr. Weiss’ Photonics Group in Vanderbilt University in March, 2013. His research interests include silicon photonic biosensors, FDTD simulations and microfluidic fabrication.

Judson Ryckman, Ph.D. (2013): Judson is a Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering and originally from Dayton, OH. He began research with the Weiss group as an undergraduate student and has continued on in the group since graduating from Vanderbilt in 2008 with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Physics. His research interests include optoelectronics, photonics, device physics, fabrication, and radiation effects.

Yang Jiao, Ph.D. (2012): Yang Jiao received his B.S degree in Electrical Engineering from Beijing Institute of Technology, China, and his M.S degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Karlsruhe (TH), Germany. Now he is working on high sensitivity optical sensors based on porous silicon.

Sarah Claiborne: Sarah completed her B.S. in Chemistry and Physics at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. At Vanderbilt she is pursuing a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. Her research project is a joint project between our lab and Sandra Rosenthal’s lab in Chemistry Department. It involves making white LEDs using ultrasmall CdSe nanocrystals.

Kyle Zufelt: Kyle graduated from Brigham Young University – Provo with a B.S. in Physics. His previous research experience includes work with carbon nanotube templated microfabrication (CNT-M) and laser micromachined carbon fiber composite devices. Kyle joined Vanderbilt in 2012 as a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Materials Science, and is currently investigating memristive behavior in gold-semiconductor composites.

Jennifer Lawrie: Jenifer is a Ph.D. student in Materials Science. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2005 with a BS degree in Chemistry. She worked briefly in industry, on the development of photoresist monomers, before coming to Vanderbilt in 2007. Her current research involves the use of DNA-based aptamers in porous silicon optical biosensing devices.

Xing Wei, Ph.D. (2012): Xing earned her B.S. and MS in the Precision Instrument Department at Tsinghua
University, China. At Tsinghua, her research was mainly on Surface Plasmon resonance. Now she is working on sensing using grating coupling with Porous Silicon.

Chris Kang, Ph.D. (2011): Chris is a Ph.D student in the NSF IGERT program. He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in 2006 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. His research interests include photonic crystals, opto-electronics, photonics, and nano-fabrication processes. Currently he is working on integrating porous silicon into photonics devices.

Jon Gosnell, Ph.D. (2010): Jon graduated in May 2010 from the NSF-funded IGERT program in Materials Science. He was born in Hendersonville, TN, but grew up in Clearwater, FL and graduated from Dunedin High School in May 2000. He received his B.S. degree in Physics from Stetson University in DeLand, FL, in May 2004. His research involved the characterization of the photoluminescent and electroluminescent properties of semiconductor nanocrystals for lighting applications. Specifically, he focused on building white-light solid state devices using Cadmium Selenide (CdSe) nanocrystals as phosphors and also as the emissive layer for hybrid organic/inorganic light-emitting diodes (LEDs). He is currently working at an Optics company in the Atlanta area.

Guoguang Rong: Guoguang Rong received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Vanderbilt University in August 2008. He received his B.S. degree in Electronic Engineering from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China, in July 2000, and his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Te chnology in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 2003. His research interests are porous silicon waveguide structures, and their applications in biological or chemical sensing . For his thesis work, he built a highly sensitive optical sensor based on resonant porous silicon structure for detecting DNA and other bio-molecules. Guoguang is currently teaching at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

Nicolas Bouchonville: Hailing from France, “Bouch” worked in the Weiss Group during the summer of 2007.

Matt Greenhall: Matt is a senior at Vanderbilt University with a major in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Engineering Management. He is working with the Weiss group this summer to investigate the response of different porosities of p-type silicon to a DNA attachment process.

Nur Aminah Hamzah: Nur Aminah Hamzah is from Penang, Malaysia. She is an undergraduate student in the Engineering Department, Vanderbilt University. She is currently a Junior majoring in Electrical Engineering. Being a participant of Vanderbilt’s VUSRP program, she is focusing her summer research on Porous Silicon Nanocrystals Light Emitters.

Talbot Hansum: Talbot graduated in 2007, majoring in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering. He worked on the characterization and patterning of n-type porous silicon. More specifically, his research focused on the use of n-type silicon macropores for biosensing, chemical loading/drug delivery, and 2 dimensional photonic crystals. He is now serving in the U.S. Navy.

David Harju: David graduated with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. He is currently attending graduate school at Stanford University.

Blake Hooper: Blake graduated with B.S. degrees in Physics and Engineering Science from Vanderbilt University. He is currently attending graduate school at Vanderbilt.

Anne Killough: A senior majoring in Electrical Engineering, Anne worked on Porous Silicon mirror structures during the Fall semester of 2007.

Nur Dayana Abd Rahman: Nur Dayana Abd Rahman is a senior at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Engineering Management. Her research this summer involves the use of p-type porous silicon for biosensing applications.

Abdul Hanis Ramli: Hanis is a rising senior majoring in Electrical Engineering. His current research is examining N-type porous silicon for the stamping process to be applied in biosensing application.

Miguel Roncal: Miguel graduated in Spring 2008- he worked on characterizing photolithography techniques.

Alex Stramel: Alex graduated in 2007, majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Materials Science. His research involved fabricating porous silicon-based light emitting diodes (LEDs) with europium oxide nanocrystals. Specifically, Alex wasinvolved with the optimization of porous silicon mirrors and microcavities used as host structures for the europium oxide nanocrystals. He is currently working at the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) of the U.S. Army Engineering, Research, & Development Center.

Lutalo Webb: Lutalo graduated in 2009, majoring in Electrical Engineering. His research involved fabricating gold-cladded porous silicon waveguides for sensing applications. Lutalo is currently attending graduate school at Purdue University.

Ran Yan, M.S. (2008): Ran graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, earning his B.S. in Physics. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 2008, receiving his MS. Currently he is working at NightHawk Radiology in Minnesota.

Joe Zadrozny: Joe graduated with a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Virginia Tech University. He is currently attending graduate school at UC Berkeley.

Parker Gould

Chris Phare. Chris graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Physics. His research at Vanderbilt involved working on simulations of photonic crystal cavities. He is now studying towards a Ph.D. at Cornell University. He is funded by a NSF fellowship.

Tyler Whittle. Tyler graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Physics and Engineering Sciences with a minor in Math. His research involved designing, modeling, and testing resonant devices to be used for high frequency optical modulation.

Troy Brown

Farah Farhana Iskandar

Amelia Cousins

Brooke Van Dusen

Ryan Gunn

Azreena Ahmad Shukri

Brian Auerbach

Nishant Biswas

Dylan McQuaide