As cience and engineering become increasingly international there is a pressing need for US universities to develop research and education programs to produce globally aware scientists and engineers. This PIRE program was organized around a research topic that the PI and Japanese collaborators had successfully pursued prior to the PIRE collaboration. In addition to training students in research, we provided an array of educational opportunities for students at all levels. One of the objectives is to attract young undergraduates to the emerging areas of electrical engineering and the physical sciences, especially nanotechnology. In the long term, we aimed to increase the number of US students who choose to go to graduate school to study science and engineering.
Our research program investigated the ultrafast and nonlinear optical properties of quantum structures based on the 6.1-angstrom III-V semiconductors (InAs, GaSb, AlSb). These semiconductors are nearly lattice-matched (with lattice constant ~ 6.1 angstrom) and can be epitaxially grown to form heterostructures. Though they possess promising properties for application in next-generation devices, there had been little exploration of their optical properties, especially in the time domain and at high laser intensities. Various optical spectroscopic methods were used to study charge and spin dynamics. These studies not only increased our understanding of the states and dynamics of interacting electrons but also provided new insight into which structures are optimum for specific applications.
The objectives of our tiered and targeted educational activities were to:
We collaborated with other Rice colleagues and leveraged existing Rice programs funded by the NSF. We also used the Rice-developed Connexions framework to increase the educational impact of this project by openly distributing content to a global audience.
We formed a unique, interdisciplinary team, consisting of co-PIs with an extremely wide range of backgrounds — electrical engineering, solid state physics, management, public policy, Asian studies, and career and international education. All members had strong track records and experience in international collaborations in research and education. At the core of this effort was the on-going collaboration between PI’s semiconductor spectroscopy group at Rice University and the crystal growth groups at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Osaka Institute of Technology, who are world leaders in the growth of 6.1 angstrom materials.