CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Feb. 13, 2001
UI professor receives $449,000 grant for electronics research
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa researcher has received a three-year,
$449,000 grant from HRL Laboratories, LLC for an experimental study that may
lead to a new generation of electronics. Thomas Boggess, professor in the
College of Liberal Arts department of physics and astronomy and in the College
of Engineering department of electrical and computer engineering, will conduct
the research as part of a multimillion dollar consortium funded by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency. The project, which is led by HRL, also
includes researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the University
of California at Los Angeles, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Los
Alamos National Laboratory.
Boggess, who is also a researcher in the UI Optical Science and Technology
Center, says that his research is intended to lay the foundation for new high-performance
electronic devices. Such devices would utilize a fundamental property of electrons
that, until now, has been untapped.
"Modern electronics is based on the control of electronic charge in
semiconductors. Our research, and that of several other groups across the
country, will focus on developing a new paradigm that relies not only on control
of the charge, but also the electron spin," he says. According to Boggess,
spin is the intrinsic angular momentum associated with elementary particles
such as electrons, while angular momentum is a physical property associated
with either spinning or orbiting objects. "If one can learn to manipulate
the spins of electrons in semiconductors, new technologies, including high-speed
nonvolatile memory and perhaps even quantum computers, may be realized,"
While the ultimate goal of this research program is to develop spin-sensitive
semiconductor devices, Boggess says that his contribution will be to pursue
more fundamental issues. For example, he will use flashes of light lasting
less than a trillionth of a second to rapidly generate spin-aligned electrons
in novel layered semiconductors. A second flash of light will determine how
long the spin alignment persists and whether it can be sustained as the electrons
travel from one semiconductor layer to the next. He notes that the resolution
of such research issues is critical to the development of practical applications.
Boggess research will be conducted in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories
building on the UI campus.