The University of Washington will lead a cohort of researchers from 11 universities as part of a newly founded Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand, or IMOD. The National Science Foundation announced today that the effort will receive a five-year, $ 25 million Science and Technology Center grant.
Optoelectronics is all about creating next-generation optical components that make use of photons rather than electrons, but can interface with more traditional electronic circuitry. Devices incorporating optoelectronic technology include light-emitting diodes, semiconductor lasers, image sensors and components of quantum communication and computing technologies.
“In the early days of electronics, a computer would fill an entire room. Now we all carry around smartphones that are millions of times more powerful in our pockets, ”IMOD Director David Ginger said in a statement.
“Today, we see an opportunity for advances in materials and scalable manufacturing to do the same thing for optoelectronics: Can we take a quantum optics experiment that fills an entire room, and fit thousands – or even millions – of them on a chip, enabling a new revolution? Along the way we anticipate IMOD’s science will help with a few more familiar challenges, like improving the display of the cell phone you already have in your pocket so the battery lasts longer, ”he said.
In addition to leading IMOD, Ginger is chief scientist at the UW Clean Energy Institute, the Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professor of Chemistry at the UW, and co-director of NW IMPACT.
The new effort will bring together experts in chemistry, materials science, physicists and mechanical and electrical engineers. The researchers will work to develop new materials used in optoelectronics and strategies for manufacturing them.
The project features educational initiatives as well, including STEM outreach and collaboration with high-school teachers on curriculum development. The center is launching mentorships, training and internship programs with a focus on participants from underrepresented groups in STEM and first-generation students.
IMOD is also creating a Quantum Training Testbed facility to support workforce-related efforts.
The center has numerous external partners, including Washington-based organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Washington State Department of Commerce.
The other 10 academic institutions participating in IMOD are the University of Maryland at College Park; the University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, the City College of New York, the University of Chicago, University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.