Doctoral student Wang wins prestigious DoD fellowship

5/5/2015 Danni Ball, MNTL intern

Electrical egineering PhD student Curtis Wang was recently selected to receive a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellowship from the Department of Defense. A highly competitive award, the NDSEG fellowship provides three years of tution, fees, stipend, and medical insurance allowance support totaling $100,000.

According to Wang, a fellowship of this caliber has some important benefits. "It gives me more flexibility to do my research in the field of high-speed semiconductor lasers -- not only the device physics and device layout, design and fabrication, but also the application of ultra-fast data transfer and real-time imaging," said Wang. "Especially, I am passionate about the new frontiers that the Transistor Laser (TL) can bring forth in the thriving internet-of-everything age."

Compared to a conventional two-port semiconductor diode laser, the transistor laser, which was invented by ECE Professors Milton Feng and Nick Holonyak Jr. in 2004, is the first three-port semiconductor laser. The extra port opens endless possibilities of applications that cannot be achieved by a diode laser alone.

These devices are critical for next-generation military and consumer optoelectronic applications. One example would be a chip-scale optoelectronic oscillator with the application of being a low-noise millimeter wave electronic photonic signal source. If realized, this device could enable our national defense’s capability of real-time imaging to an Avant-garde frontier because it can be simultaneously used as an oscillator for both electrical and optical signals. Ultimately, such a device would help U.S. troops with an ultra-fast realization and response time to any incoming object threat.

"Being at the University of Illinois for five years as both an undergraduate and graduate student has exposed me to the work of semiconductor giants, like Professors John Bardeen and Nick Holonyak Jr.," Wang said. "I am very fortunate to follow their direct legacy through my advisor, Professor Feng, and be able to work in the same intellectual environment as them. The experience has helped me realize how much potential the semiconductor laser field has to enhance our life and it resonates with my vision of going to graduate school and making an impact on society."