Colloquium: Axel Scherer

    Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Meinel 307

    Axel Scherer from the California Institute of Technology will present "Nanofabricated Silicon Devices: Nanosensors and Nano-Spectroscopy Systems."


    Advances in silicon fabrication and the resulting miniaturization of devices have fueled the rapid evolution of microelectronic devices over the past decades. More recently, silicon has also emerged as an optoelectronic material, and its mechanical strength has found widespread use in mechanical devices. The manufacturability of high resolution silicon micro- and nanostructures is unparalleled, and the control over the precise geometry of silicon devices has followed the predictable path of Moore's law. In anticipation of the evolution of this trend, I will describe the opportunities of reducing the sizes of silicon devices to below 10nm to control mechanical, optical and electronic properties of silicon. I will show some examples of nanostructures with dimensions below 10nm not only in lateral dimensions, but also through three-dimensional etching in all dimensions. This control will enable "geometric bandgap engineering," leading to many interesting devices with new optical, electrical and mechanical opportunities.

    As the size of devices is reduced, it is possible to contemplate their integration within more complex optical systems. During the second part of the presentation, the opportunities for integrated spectroscopy and data communications systems will be explored. The combination of photovoltaic power supply, optical data communications and optical biochemical detectors enables us to contemplate new microsystems for healthcare monitoring. Such systems, which could be implanted as neural probes or metabolic monitors, will enable the continuous wireless measurement within patients and may ultimately lead to a reduction in cost of our medical care.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Axel Scherer is the Bernard A. Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in 1985, and after working in the Microstructures Research Group at Bellcore, he joined the electrical engineering option at Caltech in 1993. Professor Scherer's group now works on micro- and nanofabrication of optical, magnetic and fluidic devices. He has co-authored over 300 publications and holds over 80 patents in the fields of optoelectronics, microfluidics and new nanofabrication techniques. Scherer has co-founded three high-technology companies and built a state-of-the-art laboratory for advanced high-resolution lithography and pattern transfer at Caltech. He has pioneered microcavity lasers such as vertical cavity surface emitting lasers, microdisk lasers and photonic crystal lasers in many materials systems. Presently, his group works on integration of microfluidic chips with electronic, photonic and magnetic sensors. His group has also developed silicon nanophotonics and surface plasmon enhanced light emitting diodes and has perfected the fabrication and characterization of ultra-small structures by lithography and electron microscopy.