R&D Stars Shine

Past accomplishments and promising futures characterize these researchers and engineers who continue to push the boundaries of technical and scientific achievement.

Grady Booch, chief scientist, Rational Software, IBM Software Group, IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y. One of the original authors of the Unified Modeling Language, the industry standard language of blueprints for software-intensive systems, Booch is known for innovative work in the areas of software architecture, modeling and software engineering processes. Earlier this year he was among five employees IBM designated IBM Fellows, its most prestigious technical honor. Booch also is author of numerous software-related books and hundreds of technical articles, and has lectured worldwide. Robert S. Chau, Intel Fellow, Technology and Manufacturing Group; director, transistor research, Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif. Chau directs Intel's research and development in advanced transistors and gate dielectrics for microprocessor applications. He also leads research efforts in advanced nanotechnology for device and process applications. Chau currently manages the Novel Device Laboratory. Among the latest breakthroughs to come from Intel's transistor research are the development of a high-performance transistor using a new material called high-k for the gate dielectric, and new metal materials for the transistor gate. These new materials are said to drastically reduce current leakage that results in reduced battery power and excessive heat. Steven Danyluk, professor of mechanical engineering, director of the Georgia Institute of Technology Manufacturing Research Center, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. Technology based on 10 years of research by Danyluk has helped establish Qcept Technologies Inc., which developed a patented sensing technology called the Scanning Contact Potential Difference sensor. The sensor can sense electric fields caused by minute changes to the features of surfaces, which creates variations in the voltage of the sensor. Proprietary software then interprets the resulting data. Qcepts markets include inspection in the semiconductor industry and industrial control applications. Qcept is an outgrowth of Georgia Tech's VentureLab, a center that commercializes university research. It was also the first company from the VentureLab program to be accepted into the Advanced Technology Development Center, Georgia Tech's business incubator. Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos, professor of chemical engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Mass. Research led by Flytzani-Stephanopoulos may one day lead to fuel cells that can be made with significantly less precious metals -- thus helping to reduce the expense of fuel-cell production. Much of the cost of today's fuel cell technology goes toward the purchase of precious metals like gold or platinum, which help purify the hydrogen used to produce the cell's energy. Tuft researchers have found that just a tiny amount of the precious metal -- far less than required in current processing technology -- in non-metallic form can create the active catalyst needed to purify the hydrogen. Research findings were published earlier this year in Science Express, the online Web site for the journal Science. Yong Huang, chief science officer, Excellin Life Sciences Inc., Milpitas, Calif. and Boris Rubinsky, professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley. Huang's and Rubinsky's research may one day lead to the creation of a method to warn of a biochemical attack or test drug toxicity on human tissue. They are among the researchers who -- in experiments conducted at the University of California, Berkeley -- found a way to tap into the electrical signals that mark cell death using a microchip. The microchip detects changes in a cell membrane's electrical resistance almost instantly following the membrane's exposure to a toxic agent. The June 15 issue of Sensors and Actuators contains the study. Deborah Jin, physicist, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and adjoint assistant professor of physics, University of Colorado at Boulder. Jin's research into atomic cooling helped her become a 2003 winner of a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, an award whose criteria include "promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment." Significant accomplishments include the creation in 1999 -- along with graduate student Brian DeMarco -- of a new quantum gas. Jin and DeMarco cooled a vapor of fermions -- a basic type of quantum particles -- to a temperature of almost absolute zero using lasers and magnetic traps. This research could lead to a new generation of atomic clocks and atom lasers. Kristina M. Johnson, dean, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, Durham, N.C. An expert in optics, optoelectronic switching and display technology, Johnson was named to the Women in Technology Hall of Fame earlier this year. She holds 44 patents and much of her work focuses on splitting light into components of color for applications like high-definition television and projectors. She also has founded or co-founded two companies: One develops and markets color-management components for computer monitors and digital TVs, and the other is an intellectual licensing company. Johnson is the first woman dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. Krishna Kumar, associate professor of chemistry, Tufts University, Medford/Somerville, Mass. Kumar's research centers on the design and construction of artificial proteins, molecular enzymes and self-assembling biomaterials. He and his team are using amino acids to build proteins with properties not found in nature. For example, the researchers have incorporated fluorocarbons -- the material found in Teflon -- into proteins to make them non-stick. The potential medical uses of these new materials include the design of new antibiotics, high-temperature catalysts, drug-delivery portals and structural templates for nanotechnology. Kumar is the recipient of a 2003 DuPont Young Professor Grant and a 2002 National Science Foundation Career Award. He also was named one of the 100 top young innovators by MIT's Technology Review magazine. James McLurkin, graduate student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. Pursuing the future of microrobotics helped earn McLurkin the ninth annual Student Prize for Inventiveness from the Lemelson-MIT Program. McLurkin, who already holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in engineering, is developing algorithms and techniques to program "swarms" of autonomous robots to carry out cooperative, real-world tasks. He already has developed self-contained autonomous robots that measure slightly more than one inch per side. The doctoral student in computer science hopes to construct swarm robots that can do intricate tasks in difficult environments, such as search for land mines. Carver Mead, emeritus professor of engineering and applied science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. In October the National Academy of Engineering bestowed upon Mead the NAE Founders Award for his "visionary" contributions to the field of microelectronics, including VLSI (very large scale integration) technology as well as computational neural systems. That was just the latest accolade for Mead, who is regarded as a pioneer in electronics and has contributed to digital photography, telecommunications and many other fields. Additionally, Foveon Inc., a company Mead founded and chairs, recently created the X3 image sensor, which has been heralded as having the potential to revolutionize digital photography with its ability to capture triple the image data per pixel compared with current industry standard. Kris Pister, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, University of California, Berkeley, and David Culler, professor of computer sciences, UC, Berkeley. A wireless sensor chip the size of a fleck of glitter is a significant milestone in research being led by Pister and Culler, respectively, in the Smart Dust and TinyOS projects under way at UC Berkeley. The projects' goal is to create low-powered, inexpensive wireless sensor devices, or motes, the size of a grain of sand. The chip integrates sensors and transmitters onto a platform that measures five square millimeters and is being called the "brains" behind a new generation mote dubbed "Spec." The potential uses of networks of millimeter-scaled motes include monitoring military troop movements and warning of biochemical toxins. Marlan Scully, professor of physics, Texas A&M University, College Station. Known by some as the "Quantum Cowboy," physicist Scully has invented a theoretical-engine design that he says improves upon the "perfect" engine. In his engine, a quantum heat bath supplies the power; beams of hot atoms produce radiation whose pressure drives a piston. Already the bearer of numerous accolades, Scully -- who also holds an appointment in electrical engineering at Texas A&M -- earlier this year won the Quantum Electronics Award presented by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., Lasers and Electro-Optics Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Rodney Smith, vice president of Internet emerging technologies, IBM Software Group, IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y. Smith was recently elevated to the title of IBM Fellow, a distinction the company identifies as its most prestigious technical honor and one it grants in recognition of "outstanding and sustained" technical achievements. Smith is a leader in the areas of object-oriented programming, visual development tools, Java, XML and Web services. He is responsible for leading technical innovation in Internet software and guiding it into IBM Internet products such as WebSphere. Robert M. White, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Data Storage Systems center director, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. White's research focus has been on the physics of magnetic phenomena, with powerful contributions to the behavior of light in magnetic materials. Magnetic technologies are the basis of magnetic data recording. Additionally, his leadership in creating partnerships among industry, government and academia - both as a former undersecretary of commerce for technology and in his current position at Carnegie Mellon - cannot be overstated. In recognition of his research and leadership, White has won the 2004 George E. Pake Prize, awarded by the American Physical Society. --Edited By Jill Jusko

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