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Event spotlights nanotechnology

Tiny materials only one to a few nanometers long will be the building blocks of future electronic and optical nanoscale devices. How to build such structures and how their components work at this miniscule scale are being explored at MIT and around the world. The Materials Processing Center presented Materials Day on Monday, Oct. 29 to showcase some of the Institute's research in nanostructured materials to participants from industry and academia.

"Nanostructured Technologies: Foundation for the Next Generation of Optical and Electronic Devices" was held in Kresge Little Theater, with a poster session and dinner in the Stratton Student Center.

Lionel C. Kimerling, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Materials Processing Center and the Microphotonics Center, emphasized that one of the meeting's main goals was to create opportunities for collaboration among the 80-plus participants from outside MIT and the dozens of Institute attendees.

Among the presentations:

  • Conference co-organizers Vladimir Bulovic, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), and Timothy Swager, professor of chemistry, described phenomena such as organic conductors, whose properties allow them to work as insulators, superconductors and everything in between; the use of polymers as highly sensitive chemical sensors; and the development of gene chip sensors that produce a strong signal in the presence of DNA and organic LEDs, lasers, solar cells, transistors and memory cells.
  • Paula T. Hammond, the Joseph P. Mares Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, described a new technique for patterning electro-optical polymers on various substrates. The ease and simplicity of this technique make it a means for incorporating molecular to micron-scale objects in pre-determined arrangements for use in sensors, electrical and optical devices, photonic systems and microelectronic mechanical systems or MEMS.
  • Moungi G. Bawendi, professor of chemistry, talked about studies of the electronic and optical properties of semconductor nanocrystal quantum dots for applications in biology to optical devices. Also called artifical atoms, quantum dots are nanometer-scale "boxes" for selectively holding or releasing electrons. Bawendi's research is on the synthesis, characterization and chemical physics of quantum dots and their potential applications.

The MIT presenters also included Michael F. Rubner, the TDK Professor of Polymer Materials Science and Engineering and director of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering; Institute Professor Mildred S. Dresselhaus of EECS and physics; Jackie Ying, the St. Laurent Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering; chemical engineering graduate student Neeraj Sangar; Henry I. Smith, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering and director of the Nanostructures Lab; Joseph Jacobson, associate professor at the Media Lab; Yoel Fink, assistant professor of materials science and engineering; Edwin L. Thomas, the Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; and Marco Baldo, postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, who will join EECS in January.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 31, 2001.

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