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Release: April 14, 2000

UI researchers receive Air Force research grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two University of Iowa researchers have received a two-year, $301,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories to study materials currently used in biomedical and air pollution monitoring devices and which may become the foundation of the next generation of electronic devices for high-speed information processing.

Thomas Boggess, professor in the College of Liberal Arts department of physics and astronomy and in the College of Engineering department of electrical and computer engineering, and Michael Flatté, professor in the department of physics and astronomy, received the award to investigate novel semiconductor materials. Both researchers are members of the UI Optical Science and Technology Center, and the studies will be performed in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories Building.

The research involves microscopic devices and materials, referred to as nanotechnology, and will be conducted in collaboration with Texas A&M University. The focus of the work will be on understanding the optical, electronic, and structural properties of materials comprised of thin layers of different semiconductors, with each layer roughly 10 atoms thick. Such materials are used in long-wavelength lasers and detectors, which are ideal for many biomedical applications and pollution monitoring. According to Boggess, these same materials are also expected to form the foundation of the next generation of electronic devices for high-speed information processing, including quantum computing.

"These materials are remarkable, for making one type of layer a single atom thicker than desired can render the whole device useless," Flatté says. Flatté also received $30,000 to aid in the application of these materials to energy collection in power plants.

Boggess and Flatté, along with other UI faculty, previously collaborated in the development of a long-wavelength, infrared semiconductor laser that may be useful in non-invasive biomedical monitoring.