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UMass Lowell scientist developing new class of semiconductors – Lowell Sun

LOWELL — A UMass Lowell scientist is leading a research project to develop a new class of faster, more powerful semiconductors of enhanced wireless communication and digital imaging.
Physics professor Viktor Podolskiy is leading a research team working on improving the semiconductors, or “chips,” used in infrared optoelectronic devices.
The four-year project is being financed by a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future program.
“The funding enables us to essentially develop new materials for use and explore how light and matter interact within these materials,” Podolskiy said. “In the process of research, the team will train a next-generation workforce of scientists and engineers.”
Semiconductors transmit electricity and are found in many products, including computers, smartphones, automobiles, household appliances and medical devices.
Podolskiy’s project will produce technology that could help launch new products with enhanced capabilities in intracellular imaging, night vision and quantum and 5G communication. This technology could also better serve the Internet of Things, a network of wireless-connected devices that share information and data.
Infrared optoelectronic devices detect and convert light signals, or photons, into electric current, or electrons. However, infrared photons are fast and have very long wavelengths, while electron waves are much smaller and slower. In their work, the researchers will “sculpt” photons and electrons to more closely match their wavelengths to each other to improve semiconductor performance in these devices.
Podolskiy will work with researchers from Purdue University, the University of Texas-Austin and the University of Virginia on the project. They will also collaborate with the U.S. Air Force to use the materials the team develops for innovative and practical new devices.
“If we are going to sustain innovation in communications and information processing, we must better understand and learn how to control both electronic and optical properties of these new semiconductor materials,” said team member Avik Ghosh, a University of Virginia professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics. “I am really excited to work together with this amazing team.”


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