Phone: 406-994-4363
Fax: 406-994-4452
Barnard Hall (EPS) Room 209, MSU, Bozeman, 59717-3840, MT


Biographical Sketch:

Professional Preparation:

Montana State University              Physics                 B. S. with Highest Honors                 1996

Montana State University              Statistics                B. S. with Highest Honors                 1996

Montana State University              Physics                   Ph. D.                                                    2003



10/11-present     Senior Research Scientist, Montana State University

10/07-10/11       Photonics Engineer, S2 Corporation, Bozeman, MT

6/05-9/11            Research Scientist, Montana State University

1/04-5/05            Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Montana State University

5/98-5/01            NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Montana State University

5/97-5/98            NASA Space Grant Graduate Research Fellow, Montana State University

5/96-5/97            SPIE International Society for Optical Engineering Fellow, Montana State University

5/95-5/96            Barry M. Goldwater Congressional Scholar, Montana State University

5/94-5/95              NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Scholar, Montana State University


Dr. Thiel has more than 15 years of experience working in the fields of luminescence, photonics, and solid-state physics.  Dr. Charles W. Thiel studies optical, dynamic, and magnetic properties of rare-earth-activated materials including the spectroscopic, luminescence, and coherence properties of the electronic and spin transitions. These studies examine the effects of crystal chemistry and structure on relaxation dynamics, decoherence, lattice strain and crystal defects, phonon scattering, energy transfer, collective ion excitations, nuclear and electronic spin dynamics, spectral diffusion due to ion-ion and host-ion coupling, photon-ion interactions, and electron transfer.  Furthermore, Dr. Thiel pioneered the use of electron photoemission to study the broad electronic structure of rare-earth-activated optical materials and its impact on luminescence efficiency.  Dr. Thiel has worked on projects in collaboration with numerous corporate partners on optical materials and device development, transferring expertise gained in fundamental scientific studies to these industrial partners to aid in the development of commercial products.

Dr. Thiel’s work focuses on improving our fundamental scientific understanding of materials to enable the design of systems with properties designed to enable the next-generation of photonic and luminescence technologies. A thorough understanding of both the static and dynamic properties of the electronic structure of rare-earth and transition-metal activated optical materials is needed to guide the search for new materials that satisfy all of the requirements for optical signal processing, quantum information science, lighting phosphors, scintillator radiation detectors, solid-state lasers, and the many other rare-earth-enabled optical technologies. To improve our understanding of these materials, a wide variety of non-traditional experimental techniques are employed and coupled with theoretical modeling of the observed properties.  Of particular interest is the study and characterization of decoherence and spectral hole burning properties of resonant optical materials due to their exceptional sensitivity to both long-range and short-range dynamic interactions in the solid-state environment.  Together, these measurements are analyzed with fundamental theoretical models to give important insights into the solid-state chemistry of these materials and to quantitatively evaluate the intrinsic defects and entropy that affects the optical properties.

Most Recent Selected Publications:

  1. Tm3+Y3Ga5O12 Materials for Spectrally Multiplexed Quantum Memories, C.W. Thiel, N. Sinclair, W. Tittel, and R. L. Cone, Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 160501 (2014).
  2. Narrow inhomogeneous and homogeneous optical linewidths in a rare earth doped transparent ceramic, A. Ferrier, C. W. Thiel, B. Tumino, M. O. Ramirez, L. E. Bausá, R. L. Cone, A. Ikesue, and Ph. Goldner, Phys. Rev. B 87, 041102(R) (2013).
  3. Rare-earth-doped LiNbO3 and KTiOPO4 (KTP) for waveguide quantum memories, C. W. Thiel, Y. Sun, R. M. Macfarlane, T. Böttger, and R. L. Cone, J. Phys. B: At. Mol. Opt. Phys. 45, 124013 (2012).
  4. Rare-earth-doped materials for applications in quantum information storage and signal processing, C. W. Thiel, T. Böttger, and R. L. Cone, J. Lumin. 131, 353 (2011).
  5. Angle of Arrival Estimation Using Spectral Interferometry, Z. W. Barber, C. Harrington, C. W. Thiel, W. R. Babbitt, and R. K. Mohan, J. Lumin., J. Lumin. 130, 1614 (2010).


  1. US Patent 8,829,471: Techniques for spatial spectral holography, K. D. Merkel, C. R. Stiffler, A. Woidtke, A. Traxinger, R. W. Equall, Z. Barber, C. Harrington, K. M. Rupavatharam, C. W. Thiel, R. Cone (2014).
  2. US Patent 8,593,716: Methods and apparatus for photonic arbitrary waveform generation over wide-bandwidth and extended time apertures, C. W. Thiel, P. B. Sellin, K. D. Merkel (2013).
  3. US Patent 8,307,666: Methods and Apparatus for Providing Rotational Movement and Thermal Stability to a Cooled Sample, A. Woidtke, P. B. Sellin, C. Thiel, C. C. Harrington (2012).
  4. US Patent Application 2012/0140236: Spatial Spectral Photonic Receiver for Direction Finding via Wideband Phase Sensitive Spectral Mapping, W. R Babbitt, Z. Barber, C. Harrington, K. D. Merkel, K. M. Rupavatharam, C. W. Thiel (2012).