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LEES to be merged into RLE

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The Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems (LEES) will be merged into the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) effective July 1, 2009, as part of a growing emphasis on energy-related research in RLE.

Researchers affiliated with LEES are pioneers in understanding both the theoretical basis of advanced electrical energy applications and the component, circuit and system technologies required to turn such theories into practical realities. They join other faculty in RLE who are pursuing world-leading energy-related initiatives in solar power, molecular electronics, organic and optoelectronic systems, and biologically inspired systems and devices.

"This merger will further strengthen our ability to conduct frontier research that focuses on meeting the world's energy needs," said MIT Vice President for Research and Associate Provost Claude R. Canizares. "Under the umbrella of the MIT Energy Initiative, researchers across all five schools are devising novel technologies and bringing fresh approaches to tackle this major societal problem. I am confident that the merger of LEES into RLE will provide an even stronger framework for RLE's efforts in this area."

RLE Director Jeffrey H. Shapiro, the Julius A. Stratton Professor of Electrical Engineering, said, "LEES researchers provide expertise in efficient electric energy production, distribution, utilization and storage, as well as in electromechanics from the nanoscopic to the macroscopic levels. Thus, their addition to RLE forms a natural fit to the major energy initiatives that our faculty are already leading. Together, these efforts will support MIT's commitment to have a profound impact on the global energy future."

LEES Acting Director Joel E. Schindall, the Bernard M. Gordon Professor of the Practice, will become an associate director of RLE. Schindall said, "LEES has had a remarkable history of accomplishment on a broad range of work to understand energy and to develop applications of that understanding. The LEES faculty, students and staff look forward to beginning a new chapter of building on this success by becoming part of RLE and pursuing new opportunities for synergy on many interesting topics."

RLE, founded in 1946, was the first of the Institute's great modern interdepartmental academic research centers. Today, RLE is one of MIT's largest such organizations, and among the most diverse MIT laboratories in its scope of intellectual interests. Research in RLE encompasses an extensive range of natural and man-made phenomena, and its investigations are both basic and applied. The current research of RLE's investigators is organized around six primary themes: circuits, systems, signals and communications; atomic physics; quantum computation and communication; photonic materials, devices and systems; nanoscale science and engineering; and multiscale bioengineering and biophysics.

A seventh RLE theme - electromagnetics, power and energy - will be created to comprise the work of the new affiliated former LEES faculty and RLE investigators already conducting energy-related research.

"This is not the first time RLE has provided leadership in the energy area," Shapiro said. "MIT's work in plasma fusion science had its origins in RLE, with RLE programs and researchers helping to form the core of what would become MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center today. It is my hope to repeat this success in being once again a locus of innovation in approaching the important theoretical and engineering problems related to the world's energy needs."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 29, 2009 (download PDF).

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