Associate Professor Emeritus
Electrical & Computer Engineering

3123 Kelley Engineering Center
Corvallis, OR 97331-5501
(541) 737-2984
(541) 737-1300


  • B.S., Physics, Kansas State University, 1968
  • M.S., Solid State Physics, Iowa State University, 1969
  • Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), 1975


Thomas K. Plant received a B.S. in physics from Kansas State University, his M.S. in solid state physics from Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana). His research interests are in fiber optic sensors, micromachining in technology and applications, electroluminescent display devices, optoelectronics (including photodetectors and diode lasers), and the optical properties of materials.

From 1975-1978, he worked at Hughes Research Laboratories as a member of technical staff. In 1978, he became an assistant professor at Oregon State University in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. And in 1982, he became an associate professor in the department. Plant has also served as a visiting professor/researcher at a number of universities including, Sheffield University, United Kingdom; Ulm University, Germany; Helsinki Technical University, Finland; and Stuttgart University, Germany. He currently works at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University.

An IEEE Senior Member, Plant is also a member of the American Society of Engineering Education and the Optical Society of America, advising the Oregon State University student chapter of OSA. A member of Sigma Xi, he is a former Intel Fellow and previous winner of the Oregon State College of Engineering Loyd Carter teaching Award.

Research Interests

Research Areas
Fiber optic sensors; micromachining technology and applications; electroluminescent display devices; optoelectronic devices (photodetectors, diode lasers); optical properties of materials

Research Description
My research interest areas are optoelectronic materials and devices and microscale fabrication and devices. I try to always collaborate with researchers from industry or other departments to make my research relevant to problems of immediate interest and to make it interdisciplinary in nature.

My optoelectronics research is currently aimed at making novel fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) and applying them to sensitive sensor systems for strain, humidity, etc. We have developed a process for making high-temperature FBGs that work up to 600C making them useful for monitoring the curing of composite materials for lightweight spacecraft and airplanes. We are also working with Horticulture to develop a new portable optical probe for accurately measuring the chlorophyll, nitrogen, and water content of trees and plants.

In the microfabrication area, we are collaborating with several interdisciplinary teams of the OSU Center for MECS (Microscale Technology for Energy, Chemical, and Biological Systems) in research on novel cytosensors (living-cell-based) for chemical and biological agents and also on devices for miniature fuel cells and highly efficient portable coolers. We use deposition and etching equipment normally used in semiconductor research and apply it to unconventional materials such as thin metal foils or plastic sheets. We also have to develop expertise in fabricating transparent ITO heaters and electroplated contacts. This research is truly interdisciplinary in nature bringing together faculty from ECE, ME, IME, ChE, BioE, Chemistry, and Physics.

Applications of Research
My research is applicable to many different areas such as horticulture (optical chlorophyll, nitrogen, and water sensor), civil engineering and aviation/space (fiber strain sensors), environmental assessment and cleanup (microscale sensors and chemical processors), energy (fuel cells and portable coolers), etc. There are so many challenging problems out there to be worked on, and optical electronics and microfabrication apply to nearly all of them.