Henry Helvajian, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Micro/Nano Technology Department
The Aerospace Corporation
[email protected]

Dr. Henry Helvajian joined Aerospace in 1984, and is a senior scientist in the Micro/Nano Technology Department, Physical Sciences Laboratories. In this role, he investigates the applications of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to space systems and in the miniaturization of satellites and satellite subsystems. He was involved in the design of the first 1-kg mass nanosatellite and in the development of various space microthrusters. In collaboration with other Aerospace experts, Helvajian has promoted and developed ideas for microengineering space systems and to advance awareness of MEMS in space within the Department of Defense and NASA.  He is editor of 4 books on the subject.

Helvajian’s first position at Aerospace was as a member of the technical staff in the Photochemistry Department/Aerophysics Laboratory. He worked on gas phase photochemistry and kinetics of activated radical species, and on the photophysical processes of low fluence laser/material interaction phenomenon. In 1994 he started a new Gordon Conference on the fundamentals of laser interaction with surfaces. The conference propelled laser interaction physics/chemistry to the research foreground and initiated application conferences sponsored by U.S. and foreign scientific societies, including the European Materials Research Society (EMRS), the Materials Research Society (MRS), SPIE, and the Japan Laser Processing Society (JLPS).

During the past 10 years, Helvajian has been developing a non-ablative laser processing technique for the fabrication of MEMS in glass/ceramic materials, with the goal of developing a glass/ceramic satellite that is mass-producible and customizable. He is currently researching the controlled transformation of material phases by laser irradiation to engender new material properties, thereby advancing the use of micro/ nanosystems; and the use of laser ultrasonics excitation for materials development. Helvajian’s work has supported the Department of Energy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and NASA.

Educational Background

Helvajian received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering/electrophysics at the University of Southern California.

Honors and Awards

Helvajian has served as the national co-chair of SPIE’s Photonics West LASE Conference series for eight years, which is the largest laser/photonics conference in North America, drawing over 17,000 participants annually.  He has helped establish conferences for the SPIE, MRS, EMRS, APS, and the JLPS.

Recent Publications

  • Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future. Edited by H. Helvajian, and S. W. Janson. AIAA Press, 2008.
  • Helvajian, H., “The Generation After Next: Satellites as an Assembly of Mass-Producible Functionalized Modules,” in Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future. AIAA Press, 2008.
  • Huang, A., S. Janson, W. Hansen, L. Steffeney, and H. Helvajian, “A mass-producible glass/ceramic micropropulsion unit for a co-orbiting satellite assistant (COSA) mission” in Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future, pg. 559. AIAA Press, Reston, VA, 2009.
  • Helvajian, H., “Process control in laser material processing for the micro and nanometer scale domains,” in LaserPrecision Microfabrication. Springer-Verlag, New York, 2009.
  • Livingston, F. E. and H. Helvajian, “Laser processing architecture for improved material processing,” Laser Processing of Materials: Fundamentals, Applications, and Developments. Springer, Berlin, 2009.
  • Taylor, D. P. and H. Helvajian, “Volume plasmon ejection of ions in pulsed ultraviolet laser induced desorption from several metals,” Phys. Rev. B., 79 (1), pg. 075411. 2009.
  • Stillman, J. A., J. W. Judy, and H. Helvajian, “MaTT, an automatic toolpath generator for laser-patterning high-aspect-ratio microstructures in photosensitive materials,” Int. J. Manuf. Res., 3(1), pg. 114. 2008.
  • Livingston, F. E., L. F. Steffeney, and H. Helvajian, “Tailoring light pulse amplitudes for optimal laser processing and material modification,” Appl. Surf. Sci., 253, pg. 8015. 2007.
  • Livingston, F. E., P. M. Adams, and H. Helvajian, “Examination of the laser-induced variations in the chemical etch rate of a photosensitive glass ceramic,” Appl. Phys. A. 89, pg. 97. 2007.
  • Livingston, F. E. and H. Helvajian, “The symbiosis of light and matter: laser-engineering materials for photo-functionality,” MRS Bulletin-Special Issue, 32, pg. 40. 2007.