Search this Site

Print this page
RSS facebook twitter
David D. Nolte

Professor of Physics
Office: Physics 54
Telephone: (765) 494-3013
Fax: (765) 494-0706

Ph.D., 1988 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley 
B.A., 1981 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Cornell University

Research Interests

Adaptive optics and Biophotonics group under the direction of Prof. David. D. Nolte
Adaptive optics and Biophotonics group under the direction of Prof. David. D. Nolte


The adaptive optics and biophotonics group, directed by Professor Nolte, studies a broad spectrum of problems that range from BioCDs (Biological Compact Disks) that rely on diffraction of lasers from spinning discs supporting antibodies, to real-time video flythroughs of rat bone-cancer tumors using holographic imaging, and microfabrication of microfluidic systems using two-photon polymerization. The BioCD uses high-speed spinning-disc interferometry (SDI) to measure average changes in protein heights with sensitivities down to a picometer. These silicon discs are protein microarrays that have the ability to screen for hundreds of types of molecules across hundreds of samples. Holographic optical coherence imaging (HOCI) has high sensitivity to motion inside of tissues and cells. Using digital holography, we are studying the effects of anti-cancer drugs on the cytoskeleton. Laser machining using two-photon polymerization is a direct-write process that fabricates complex microfluidic systems. These projects use laser interferometry, nonlinear optics, coherent optics, and Fourier optics to study aspects of biological systems from the nanoscale molecular level to the macroscale tissue level.


Research Groups

The BioCD

Antibody molecule attached to a BioCD for selective detection of antigen and blood proteins. The BioCD has the potential for high-speed, multi-analyte, high-sensitivity sensing for immunoassays and proteomics.

Prof. Nolte is a technical founder of Quadraspec, Inc. of West Lafayette, IN, a company of 50 employees that is commercializing the immuno-diagnostic potential of the BioCD (

Review Article

"Semi-insulating semiconductor heterostructures: Optoelectronic properties and applications", J. Appl. Phys. 85, 6259 (1999)


D. Nolte is the author of the trade Non-fiction book "Mind at Light Speed" on the physics and future of photonic technology (

In the News

Awards and Honors

  • Indiana MIRA Award for Business Innovation of the Year, 2006
    Presented to QuadraSpec, Inc., West Lafayette, IN.
  • Herbert Newby McCoy Award, Purdue University, 2005 The top award of Purdue University for Discovery in Science.
  • PRC National Invited Lecturer, Nankai University, 2004
  • Purdue University Faculty Scholar, 2003-2008
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 2003
  • Fellow, Optical Society of America, 1997
  • Joel and Ruth Spira Award for Undergraduate Teaching, 1997
  • Presidential Young Investigator, NSF 1991-1996
  • Research Initiation Award, NSF 1990-1993
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, 1990-1994
  • Young Author Best Paper Award, International Conference on the Physics of Semisconductors, 1990
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1981
  • National Merit Schoarship, 1977

Professional Experience

  • Technical Founder and Consultant, QuadraSpec, Inc., W. Lafayette, IN, 2004-
  • Member, Board of Directors of Holoscan, Ltd. UK, 2000-2004
  • NATO Consultant for Science for Peace Program, 2000-2002
  • Full Professor, Dept. of Physics, Purdue University, 1999-
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Physics, Purdue University, 1994-1999
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics, Purdue University, 1989-1994
  • Postdoctoral Member of Technical Staff, AT&T Bell Labs (advisor A. M. Glass), 1988-1989
  • Research Assistant, Center for Advanced Materials, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (advisor E. Haller & L.M. Falicov), 1984-1988