UAPB Professor receives Air Force funding for new material research

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Dr. Mansour Mortazavi, professor of Physics at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff received a $725,000 grant from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research to further develop new materials for advanced electronics devices. This cutting edge new material research will be done in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Arkansas.

Photonics is the science of all things related to light, including generation, emission, transmission and sensing. Optoelectronics focuses on the development of electronic devices that source, detect and control light.

The material – a combination of silicon, germanium and tin grown on silicon substrates – will create a so-called silicon optoelectronics “superchip” by improving processing speed, reliability and efficiency through combining photonic and silicon based devices. The technology will improve lasers, detectors in a wide range of applications such as lasers for medical use, infra-red detections, and in optical communications.

Many of the current lasers used for medical or communication applications are not the most efficient source for the task, but by developing these new photonics devices, more application-specific lasers tailored for specific task in medicine and optical communication can be developed. These new devices will also produce the desired photon energy to minimize the absorption in the medium absorption, and consequently less need for repeater with increased clarity, and speedy processing time. This increased processing time will tremendous help for ever increasing demand for larger storage capacity in computers and internet search engines.

These researchers have already demonstrated the efficacy of silicon-germanium-tin as powerful semiconductor, one that addresses the problem of so-called “band gap indirectness,” which, in semiconductor physics, has to do with the momentum of electrons in various energy bands. This problem leads to inefficiencies because photons cannot be emitted in an indirect gap.

The researchers will grow and characterize silicon-germanium-tin materials on silicon substrates through a process called ultra-high-vacuum chemical vapor deposition, which is possible because of sophisticated equipment and machines in laboratories directed by Mortazavi, Yu Fisher and Hameed Naseem. Other primary tasks include development of germanium tin detectors and lasers and the establishment of a research consortium based on these new devices. The project includes funding for three positions, a postdoctoral researcher at UAPB and a doctoral and master’s student at the University of Arkansas.

This team is also part of the currently funded solar cell research project funded by NSF-EPSCoR.

For more information about the project, call Dr. Mortazavi at (870) 575-8789 or mortazavim@uapb.edu.

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