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Posted: February 19, 2010
NSF award to help explore quantum states in semiconductor nanostructures
(Nanowerk News) Michigan State University physics assistant professor Chih-Wei Lai has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award for work which may allow for the development of new quantum materials and optoelectronic devices for improved computation and communication.
CAREER awards are one of the NSF’s most prestigious and competitive awards for junior researchers. They recognize those who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.
As a part of the five-year, $550,000 award, Lai is developing a summer workshop to introduce graduate students to the research environment and to learn optical methods for studying condensed matter systems. Lai is also introducing hands-on experiments about optics in daily life to high school teachers, K-12 students, and underrepresented pre-college students.
Lai is the Jerry Cowen Endowed Chair in Experimental Physics at MSU. He will use the grant to explore collective quantum states emerged from light-matter interaction in semiconductor nanostructures
“Groups of electrons behave differently than a single electron because they interact with each other,” Lai said. “Predicting material properties becomes difficult when a huge number of electrons interact at a quantum level. Studying the interactions and resultant collective phenomena will allow physicists to better predict how these complex systems function.”