In August, Can Bayram joined the ECE and MNTL faculty. A former IBM researcher, he is developing novel photonic and electronic devices for consumer, medical, and defense applications. 

Bayram's research explores novel photonic & electronic devices

A former post-doctoral research scientist at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center, Can Bayram joined the Illinois faculty in August as an assistant professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and resident of the Micro & Nanotechnology Lab (MNTL). His Innovative COmpound semiconductoR (ICOR) research group aims to develop novel photonic and electronic devices for consumer, medical, and defense applications.

Although Bayram was at IBM for only three years, he made several significant research contributions. For example, he was part of the team that developed a record-breaking specific power solar cell, which was featured on the cover of Advanced Energy Materials in May 2013. The team also developed a novel release mechanism that allowed them to demonstrate the world’s thinnest light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

More recently at IBM, Bayram worked on next-generation electronics and power devices by combining his gallium nitride (GaN) expertise with IBM’s silicon technology know how. “This co-integration approach is quite interesting for power devices [because] gallium nitride devices outperform any silicon-only-based technology,” said Bayram, who will continue this work at Illinois. “The switch from silicon to gallium nitride devices is quite important as the latter promises energy savings for power converters, which are used in ever-increasing data centers, electric vehicles, and solar farms.”

Bayram and his team made headlines in April when they created a technique to grow GaN material that is compatible with conventional CMOS fabrication technology. They also provided a roadmap for making GaN LEDs cost competitive.

Blue and green LEDs are currently manufactured by growing layers of GaN on sapphire and silicon carbide substrates. However, these layers are hexagonal in shape and they have very high polarization fields along the common growth direction. Bayram’s technique involved growing a nanopattern on a CMOS-compatible silicon substrate, resulting in a stress-free GaN material for polarization-free LEDs.

At Illinois, Bayram’s ICOR group will design and develop new ultra-violet LEDs capable of detecting and eliminating biological agents like anthrax, plague, ebola, and microbes; they will work on new methods for making less expensive and more robust visible LEDs; and they’ll explore using LEDs for wireless data transfer. His group will also continue developing next-generation GaN-based power transistors.

Although he enjoyed his three years at IBM, Bayram is pleased to be in academia now, especially at Illinois, which is known for its successful engineering alumni. “Illinois is an excellent university…with state-of-the-art infrastructure, faculty of diverse expertise across disciplines, and the brightest students from every corner of the nation and the world,” said Bayram, who plans to collaborate with IBM and other companies on research.

Born and raised in Turkey, Bayram completed his bachelor’s degree from Bilkent University in Ankara. He earned his doctorate from Northwestern University in 2011.