UB Electrical Engineer Wins Prestigious Research Award

Release Date: February 23, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Alexander N. Cartwright, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University at Buffalo, is the recipient of a prestigious Department of Defense Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program Award.

Cartwright is one of just 26 engineers and scientists across the United States to be honored with the award this year. He is only the third UB faculty member ever to receive the award.

The award comes with a research grant of $300,000 over three years, with additional funding available for three more years.

ONR's Young Investigator Awards recognize exceptional young scientists and engineers. Criteria include prior professional achievement, submission of a meritorious research proposal and evidence of strong support by their respective universities.

Cartwright received the award to continue his research into the complete understanding of how piezoelectric fields, which arise from changes in the crystalline structure of strained layers of nitride-based semiconductors, can be incorporated into design criteria for wide bandgap electronic devices, modulators and blue lasers.

In particular, he will use the grant to expand on existing experimental and theoretical expertise to characterize the magnitude and structural and compositional dependence of piezoelectric fields, induced in nitride semiconductor heterostructures.

Cartwright conducts research in numerous related areas of photonics, such as optical determination of stress and strain in electronic packaging using interferometry, a collaborative effort with Cemal Basaran, Ph.D., UB associate professor of civil engineering and a 1997 ONR Young Investigator.

Cartwright also is collaborating with Chu R. Wie, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering, to develop educational software that focuses on the development of Java applets that serve as educational tools for microelectronics and photonics. Such tools are designed to be accessible to a wide range of users, beginning with high-school students and progressing up to the level of post-doctoral researchers working in industry.

In addition to his teaching and research, Cartwright holds positions in a host of UB labs and centers, including director of the Laboratory for Advanced Spectroscopic Evaluation, director of the Ultrafast Laser Facility (a Center for Advanced Photonics and Electronic Materials/Materials Research Instrument Facility), associate director of the Electronics Packaging Laboratory, deputy director for lasers and photonics for the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics and co-director for the Center for Active Learning of Microelectronics and Photonics.

The ONR Young Investigator is Cartwright's second prestigious award. In 1998, he received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, which recognizes young faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding potential as science and engineering investigators and educators. That grant supports his research on the use of gallium-nitride-based materials for visible spatial-light modulators for thin-panel display technology.

His work on Gallium/Indium/Aluminum/Nitride materials will aid in the development of ultraviolet and blue lasers, as well as photodetectors for CD-ROMS, laser printers and communication systems.

Cartwright received his doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1995.

He lives in Amherst.

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