Dr. Eric A. Dauler, a technical staff member in the Optical Communications Technology Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, has been selected the 2010 R&D Magazine Young Innovator of the Year. This award is given annually by R&D Magazine to a researcher under the age of 31 from an academic, professional or government organization. Recipients are chosen for having demonstrated leadership in developing one or more innovative products within the prior year. Dauler was recognized for his contributions to the development of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors and Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes, both of which were chosen as winners of R&D 100 Awards, which recognize the year’s 100 most technologically significant innovations.
Since joining Lincoln Laboratory in 2001, Dauler has focused his research on single-photon detectors, including Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes and superconducting nanowire detectors, and their application to optical communications and quantum measurements. He is currently creating new types of detectors, including one based on quantum dots, that may enable higher-performance single-photon detection.
The Lincoln Laboratory nanowire photodetector arrays are advancing what is possible in optical communications. They are the fastest, most sensitive single-photon detectors available. They operate in the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared spectral regions; provide the largest photon-counting rates; are relatively easy to fabricate; involve simple signal digital post-processing to obtain photon-number information; and detect light coming from a range of angles. In the future, nanowire photodetector arrays may be used for both ground-based and on-orbit laser-communications receivers in an optical deep-space communications network.
Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode two-dimensional arrays of ultrasensitive solid-state photodetectors enable three-dimensional laser radar imaging used in mapping terrain and construction sites, acquiring data for robotic vision, and imaging partially obscured objects. These arrays have also been employed in highly sensitive laser-communications receivers.
Dauler holds SB, MEng and PhD degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. He performed thesis work at Lincoln Laboratory under the MIT VI-A Master’s in Engineering Program and was a participant in the Lincoln Doctoral Scholars Program.