Home  »  News  »  Rensselaer Completes Future Ch...

Rensselaer Completes Future Chips Constellation With Two New Faculty Appointments

March 4, 2004

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today announced the appointment of two new faculty members, thereby completing its Future Chips Constellation, the first of several "critical mass" groupings of world-caliber faculty in focal research areas. The new faculty are Shawn-Yu Lin, Ph.D., a recognized authority in photonics research, and Christian M. Wetzel, Ph.D., a research pioneer in semiconductor device design and manufacturing.

"The research program in the Future Chips Constellation aims at nothing less than transforming many sectors of the economy, including communications, medicine, defense, entertainment, and the environment," Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson said. "We are delighted to have these stellar individuals join our dynamic research environment, working to develop next-generation technology in semiconductor design and performance."

A new concept in academia, a constellation is led by outstanding faculty in fields of strategic importance. Each constellation at Rensselaer is focused on specific research programs and comprises a multidisciplinary mix of senior and junior faculty, post docs, and graduate students. The completed Future Chips Constellation will focus on innovations in materials and devices, in solid state and smart lighting, and will extend to applications such as sensing, communications, and biotechnology.

Lin currently heads Sandia National Laboratories' multimillion-dollar research and development effort in photonic crystal devices, located in Albuquerque, N.M. He also directs a U.S. Department of Energy multi-laboratories initiative in Nano-Structural Photonics. At Rensselaer, Lin will enhance the research capabilities of several key centers, including the New York state-supported Focus Center for Interconnects and the Center for Broadband Data Transport Science and Technology, a partnership between Rensselaer and IBM. He will join Rensselaer on July 1, 2004.

Wetzel, who joins Rensselaer this week, previously was senior scientist with Uniroyal Optoelectronics in Tampa, Fla. He also held research fellowships at the University of California Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., and at the Meijo University High-Tech Research Center in Nagoya, Japan. The innovations he has demonstrated and his industrial experience are assets in the transfer of promising research to commercial products.

"The two new faculty appointments have great records of accomplishment," said E. Fred Schubert, the Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor in Future Chips Research. "Dr. Lin has conducted pioneering and seminal research in photonics, photonic crystals, and waveguide devices. He will add a new dimension to Rensselaer's research endeavors.

"Dr. Wetzel has an impressive list of research accomplishments, including many fundamental and applied contributions in solid-state physics and optoelectronics," Schubert said. "This constellation will focus on devices and systems based on optoelectronics and photonics, which is evolving as a major pillar in modern science and technology."

Other constellations at Rensselaer—Multiscale Computation, Tetherless World, Functional Tissue Engineering, Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering, and Integrative Systems Biology—are currently being staffed and developed with completion expected in 2005.

Those upcoming appointments to the constellations are part of an unprecedented expansion at Rensselaer that, by the end of this year, will include 127 new tenured and tenure-track faculty added in the last three years — 71 in new positions.

Rensselaer's new Future Chips Constellation members have demonstrated stellar achievements. Lin pioneered the development of photonic-crystal nanostructures for communication, energy, and defense applications. Wetzel has demonstrated green-light-emitting diodes of very high intensity.

"We will focus on understanding the fundamental interplay between photonic emission processes and the nanostructure of materials, materials defects, and materials synthesis," Schubert said. "The Future Chips Constellation has broad expertise in experimental capabilities in these areas."

Lin received his bachelor's degree from National Taiwan University, his master's degree from the University of North Carolina, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Princeton in 1992. In 2002, Lin was named a fellow of the American Physical Society. Additionally, he has won several awards, including the "Asia-America Engineer-of-the-Year" award from the Chinese Institute of Engineering, the "R&D 100" award from R&D magazine, a "NOVA" award from Sandia National Laboratories, and the "Technology of the Year" award from Industry Week magazine.

Wetzel received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the Technical University of Munich, which awarded him a Ph.D. in physics summa cum laude in 1993. Wetzel previously won the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft research fellowship. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellshaft, and the Materials Research Society, where he has been an organizer of Electronic Materials Conferences since 1999.

Constellations at Rensselaer span multiple academic disciplines. Professors Lin and Wetzel are being appointed in the Department of Physics. Professor Schubert holds appointments in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering as well as in Physics.

Contact: Robert Pini
Phone: (518) 276-6050
E-mail: pinir@rpi.edu