The Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) at MIT has a new director. Maria Zuber, vice president of research and the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, and Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), recently announced that Tomás Palacios assumed the role of director of MTL on Dec. 1. Palacios has served as director of the 6-A MEng Thesis Program; industry officer; and professor of electrical engineering within the Department of EECS. He succeeds Advanced Television and Signal Processing (ATSP) Professor Hae-Seung (Harry) Lee, who has been the director of MTL since 2019.
“MTL is a very unique place,” said Palacios in his email to the lab’s community. “The research being done here is second to none, and MTL’s commitment to developing innovative technologies at all levels of the stack, from materials to devices, circuits and systems, is an example to all. We just need to browse the internet, make a phone call, or recharge our electric vehicle to see how technologies that came out of MTL have found their place in applications all around us.”
Palacios joined MTL in 2006, after receiving his PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his undergraduate degree in telecommunication engineering from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain). A world expert in gallium nitride electronics for both radio frequency and power applications, Palacios and his group have also made seminal contributions to two-dimensional materials and devices, and their heterogeneous integration with state-of-the-art silicon electronics. Palacios is the founding director of the MTL Center for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems, as well as the co-founder of Finwave Semiconductor, Inc., an MTL spinoff company commercializing gallium nitride power amplifiers for 5G communications.
Palacios is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and has served the microelectronics community in many roles, more recently as the general chair for the IEEE Symposium on Very Large-Scale Integration Technology and Circuits. His work has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the 2012 and 2019 IEEE George Smith Award, and the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Awards, among many others.
Palacios follows in the footsteps of Advanced Television and Signal Processing (ATSP) Professor Hae-Sung (Harry) Lee, whose guidance of MTL throughout the pandemic Palacios praised, saying, “his amazing leadership during ... arguably the most difficult times I have ever seen, has been both inspiring, and key to position MTL in the amazing place we are today.”
The lab will continue to build upon its long history of innovation, Palacios promises: “Semiconductors and microsystems have never been more important. It is not only about their tremendous implications to computing and communication, but also that they are the key to solving the climate crisis, transforming health care, and even the future of education. We have a-once-in-a-generation opportunity to set the foundation for the future of semiconductors and microsystems, and everything that means for the future of our society. I am convinced that the MTL community will play a vital role in setting this foundation.”