A South Carolina Research Center of Economic Excellence, COMSET is a premier academic resource in the United States for passive and active optical materials research and related optical and optoelectronic technologies. We have the infrastructure to nurture rapid growth in the photonics industry, and are proud to offer a spectrum of research opportunities as diverse and innovative as the expertise of our multidisciplinary faculty.

The core areas of research at COMSET are inorganic and organic/polymeric optical and optoelectronic materials and structures, optical fibers, lasers, and optical nanotechnology. More specifically, active research programs focus on the following topics:

Optical Materials

Inorganic Optical Materials

  • Transparent ceramics (Ballato)
  • Laser and nonlinear single crystals (Kolis)
  • Thin films (Kennedy)

Organic Optical Materials

  • Novel organics for optical sensing and light emission (SmithTennysonFoulger and Urban)
  • Conductive and light emitting organic colloids (Foulger)
  • Polymer optical fibers and optical nanocomposites (Brown)


Surface Modification and Characterization

  • Surface functionalization (Luzinov)
  • Surface and mechanical properties characterization (Kennedy)

Optoelectronics, Optical Devices, and Structures

  • Display technologies (Kim and Foulger)
  • Organic LEDs (Foulger)
  • Planar photonic waveguides: modeling, fabrication and devices (Zhu)
  • Plasmas waveguides (Kim)
  • Optofluidics (Kornev)
  • Biophotonic (FoulgerGao and Ye)
  • Near-field optics and laser trapping (Gao and Ke)
  • Carbon nanotubes and optical nanocomposites (Rao)
  • Photovoltaics (Singh)
  • Flexible electronics (Kim)
  • Diffractive Optical Elements (Johnson)
  • Bio-imaging (Ye)

Specialty Optical Fibers

  • Modeling (Dong)
  • Fabrication (Ballato and Dong)
  • Novel and non-conventional fiber materials (Ballato)
  • Fiber lasers and devices (Dong)
  • Nonlinear optics and optical fibers (Stolen)
  • Optical fiber coatings (Ballato)
  • Optical Fiber Sensors (Xaio)

Much of the research performed at COMSET has critical commercial applications in the fields of telecommunications, defense, sensing and displays. We have participated in numerous sponsored projects at the federal, state and local level. Our many clients and partners include:



  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Energy
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health


(Department of Defense)

  • Army Research Office
  • Army Research Laboratory
  • Office of Naval Research
  • Naval Research Laboratory
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Joint Technology Office (High Energy Laser program)
  • Missile Defense Agency



  • 3M
  • AFO Research, Inc.
  • Baker Hughes
  • Draka
  • EOTech
  • Heraeus
  • Hybrid Glass Technologies
  • Kiara Networks
  • Kigre, Inc.
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Nufern
  • Northrup Grumman
  • Nucsafe
  • Raytheon
  • Sandia National Labs
  • Verrillon
  • Yazaki