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Semiconductor expert to lead new R&D lab at Cardiff University

28 May 2015

Quantum dots, photonics and novel material innovation to be inspired by Prof. Diana Huffaker.

Professor Diana Huffaker, previously from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has been appointed as Chair in Advanced Engineering and Materials at Cardiff University, through the Welsh Government's £50m Sêr Cymru (“Welsh Stars”) programme.

Professor Huffaker is tasked with establishing a world-class research lab with a focus on fundamental science and device development. It will build on existing strengths at Cardiff University in expanding areas of optoelectronics, semiconductor devices and materials.

The lab will explore novel growth methods and material combinations that industry cannot necessarily accommodate, and will form part of the Compound Semiconductor Foundation - a joint venture between Cardiff University and Cardiff-based technology firm IQE, which itself has recently forecast significant growth, following a successful trading year in 2014.

Professor Huffaker's research focuses on the development of materials that will enable the production of new devices with new functionality. She is best known for her pioneering work on compound semiconductors and the development of quantum dot materials, used in optoelectronics and laser physics. Graduate students from Professor Huffaker's California lab recently formed a spin-off company to commercialise the lab's research into high-sensitivity electronic receivers.

Vision

She commented, "My research vision is to bring the promise of nanoscale physics to collect and transmit information using light with exquisite speed and sensitivity. With the Ser Cymru investment, I shall build an extensive user facility for materials and nanostructure synthesis not currently available in UK. To meet the needs of industry and academic collaborators, this laboratory will feature nimble flexibility to try new ideas, new material systems and growth methodology."

Professor Huffaker is the fourth appointment under the Welsh Government's Sêr Cymru programme, a five-year initiative to attract and support world-class scientific researchers and their teams to Wales. Prof. Andrew Barron has been appointed as Chair of Low Carbon, Energy and Environment at Swansea University, Prof. James Durrant has been appointed as Solar Energy Research Chair, also at Swansea University, while Prof. Yves Barde, has taken up a post at Cardiff University as Research Chair in Neurobiology.

Minister for Economy and Science, Edwina Hart said: "I am very pleased to welcome Professor Huffaker to Wales. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to lead the semiconductor research unit at Cardiff. Professor Huffaker is the fourth world class researcher brought to Wales under our Sêr Cymru programme, which is significantly boosting our country's research capability. A strong science research capability is vital to improving our economic wellbeing and securing a prosperous, healthy and sustainable future for Wales."

Professor Julie Williams, Welsh Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, commented, "Semiconductor technology research has the potential to drive developments across many fields including industry, healthcare and communications. Professor Huffaker's appointment will boost Wales' growing reputation in this field. A female engineer of such eminence will also be an excellent role model for girls in Wales."

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