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Nanophase inorganic materials to be focus of new faculty

A research effort that combines faculty from four College of Engineering departments, as well as the Departments of Chemistry and Physics, has been approved under a new UW-Madison strategic hiring initiative. As a result, three new faculty positions will be funded for interdepartmental research on nanophase inorganic materials. It is anticipated the new faculty will be in place by fall 1999.

Molecular beam epitaxy system

In this photo, a semiconductor wafer is prepared for growth in a molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system. MBE is a technique for growing semiconductor materials with atomic-level control of chemical and electrical properties. (large image)

"The frontiers of materials science and engineering are rapidly moving toward the atomic and quantum level," said Professor Eric E. Hellstrom, chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "Research in this field will result in wide-ranging benefits -- from improved electronic devices to better catalysts to faster computers with bigger memories."

The funding proposal was submitted by Professors Hellstrom, David C. Larbalestier, Max G. Lagally and Reid F. Cooper, all of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Professor Gilbert A. Emmert, chair of the Department of Engineering Physics; Professor Thomas F. Kuech, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Professor Leon McCaughan, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Professor Fleming Crim, Department of Chemistry; and Professors Franz Himpsel and Bob Joynt of the Department of Physics.

Chancellor David Ward's "cluster hiring" initiative, announced last November, was met enthusiastically by faculty, who developed 95 separate proposals that challenged the traditional boundaries of departments. The nanophase inorganic materials research proposal was one of five that were approved from that group.

Ward said that interdisciplinary collaborations have long been a strong point among UW-Madison faculty. "The range of ideas across the entire campus shows how the collaborations are revitalizing fields of study."