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University of Iowa News Release

June 21, 2006

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UI's Flatté Honored With Van Allen Natural Science Award

Michael E. Flatté, professor of physics and astronomy in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has won the 2006-2007 James Van Allen Natural Sciences Fellowship, a competitive award designed to encourage and support work in the physical, natural and mathematical sciences. The $15,000 Van Allen award is one of two UI faculty fellowships awarded in alternate years, the other being the May Brodbeck Humanities Award.

During the fellowship period, Flatté plans to propose and partially write a book titled "Spin-dependent phenomena in semiconductors," a fundamental introduction to this emerging field of physics at the intersection of electronics, magnetism and optics.

Electrons have an additional property besides charge and mass, a property that appears in many ways like an internal spinning. This property is central to the existence of magnets, and is therefore essential for materials and devices associated with information storage such as magnetic tape and hard disk drives.

Despite the existence of such devices in nearly every computer, spin has not been used for logical operations or for communications. Traditionally, electrical current flows, modified in transistors, are used for logic operations, and optical signals are used for communications. Over the past 10 years, however, discoveries at the UI and elsewhere have suggested that materials and devices can be designed that permit the simultaneous manipulation of spin, electrical current and optical signals.

No coherent introductory book to this field exists now. Flatté's proposed book will be a single-author work devoted to explaining the fundamental physics, materials properties and device physics of this new field.

Flatté received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1988 and his doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1992. A member of the UI faculty since 1995, Flatté is considered among the top semiconductor theorists in the world. He has applied for and holds several patents on spintronic-based transistors, and is internationally recognized for proposed physical implementations of spintronic-based quantum computation. He was a UI Faculty Scholar from 2002 to 2005.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mailto:mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu or Lesly Huffman, 319-384-0077, mailto:lesly-huffman@uiowa.edu; Writer: Kris Yows

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu or Lesly Huffman, 319-384-0077, lesly-huffman@uiowa.edu