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Kevin L. Lear received a BSEE degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1984 and MSEE and PhDEE degrees from Stanford University in 1985 and 1990. He was a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories from 1990 to 1997 where his work on VCSELs led to several performance records and recognition with an IEEE LEOS Distinguished Lecturer Award in 1996. In 1997, he became the Chief Scientific Officer at Micro Optical Devices, Inc., of Albuquerque, NM, a small business commercializing VCSELs, subsequently acquired by Emcore Corporation. In 1999 he joined Colorado State University as the Rockwell Anderson Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. He currently serves as the associate director of the School of Biomedical Engineering. His research has focused on components and systems for high speed optical communication and is now primarily addressing photonic biosensors.
Kevin Lear completed a BSEE degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he received the Colorado Engineering Council Silver Medal Award as the top engineering graduate in 1984. He received MS and PhD degrees as an Office of Naval Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. His thesis work centered on a compound semiconductor quantum electronic device, the resonant tunnel diode, and its applications. He joined Sandia National Laboratories as a Senior Member of Technical Staff in 1990 where he developed high performance laser diode technology for vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs). His work on low resistance mirrors and the use of oxides for index guiding led to demonstrating record low threshold voltages, raising wallplug efficiency through sequential record values from 15% to 50%, and achieving record direct modulation bandwidths in excess of 20 GHz. His accomplishments were recognized with an IEEE LEOS Distinguished Lecturer Award and a number of patents that were licensed by manufacturers.
He left Sandia to commercialize the technology as the Chief Scientific Officer and head of development for MicroOptical Devices (MODE, acquired in 1997 by Emcore Corporation). The VCSEL technology he pushed into manufacturing there was used for ultra high channel count optical interconnects in DARPA's VLSI Photonics program and became a key technology base for Emcore’s Fiber Optic Product Division.
Kevin went to Colorado State University in 1999 as a Rockwell Anderson Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering. His research has been funded by DARPA, NSF, NIH, the State of Colorado and commercial sponsors and was initially focused on components and systems for high speed optical communication including equalization in LANs, VCSELs for chip-to-chip optical interconnects, and on-chip optical interconnects for CMOS processors. He is now engaged in exploring and developing label-free optical cavity and waveguide based photonic biosensors.
Professor Lear has co-authored over 90 journal and conference papers and over 100 conference presentations and been awarded a dozen patents. His work has been cited in journal publications over 2000 times. He frequently serves as a director, advisory board member, and consultant for high technology companies, and has co-founded multiple optoelectronics startups. In 2010, he became the associate director of CSU's School of Biomedical Engineering where he leads an undergraduate program started that year and that has grown to nearly 400 students.