Dr. Henry Helvajian

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 Physical Sciences Laboratories. In this role, he has investigated 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.

As a member of the technical staff, Helvajian’s first research was 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 15 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 has developed an in situ, near realtime sensor for additive manufacturing technology that merges laser ultrasonics and heterodyne sensing, and 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. He is also researching the use of laser ultrasonics excitation for materials development. Finally, he has served as scientific advisor for ongoing Aerospace projects Sextant, Forward Engineering, and HIVE. Helvajian’s work has been supported by 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.


Helvajian has served as the national co-chair of SPIE’s Photonics West LASE Conference series for eight years. Currently, he is the chair of the SPIE laser 3D manufacturing conference. He is a fellow of the SPIE for achievements in photo-physical and chemical processes and laser interactions in materials. To date, he holds 19 patents.


Recent Publications

  • Wuenschell, J. K., and Helvajian, H., “Enhanced laser crystallization of thin film amorphous MoS2 by means of pulsed laser ultrasound,” in review (2017)
  • Manzo, A. J., and Helvajian, H., ”Pulsed laser ultrasonic excitation and heterodyne detection for in situ process control in laser 3D manufacturing,” J. Laser Appl. 29, 012012 (2017).
  • Helvajian, H., Foreword to “Three-Dimensional Microfabrication Using Two-Photon Polymerization,” T. Baldacchini Ed., Elsevier Micro & Nanotechnology Series, (2016).
  • Shugaev, M. V., Manzo, A. J., Wu, C., Zaitsev, V. Y., Helvajian, H. and Zhigilei, L. V. , “Strong Enhancement of Surface Diffusion by Nonlinear Surface Acoustic Waves,” Phys. Rev. B, 91, 2354550, (2015).
  • Kim, Y., and Helvajian, H. “Local Modification of Speed of sound in lithium alumino-silicate glass/ceramic material by pulsed laser irradiation and thermal processing,” J. Phys. Chem. 117(46), 11954-62, (2013).
  • Helvajian, H. “The feasibility of inducing chemical mobility on surfaces via laser-induced ultrasonic excitation,” Aerospace Technical Report ATR-2011(8066)-2, (2011).
  • Miyamoto, I., Cvecek, K., Okamoto, Y., Schmidt, M., and Helvajian, H, “Characteristics of laser absorption and welding in FOTURAN glass by ultrashort laser pulses,” Optics Expr.  Vol 19 (23) pg. 22961, (2011).
  • Helvajian, H. “Process Control in Laser Material Processing for the Micro and Nanometer Scale Domains,” in Laser Precision Microfabrication, K. Sugioka, M. Meunier, A. Pique (Eds.) (Springer-Verlag, Berlin) pg. 1, (2010)
  • 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 Laser Precision 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).