First DARPA Young Faculty Award goes toward work in optics and materials

June 2, 2008--The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award has been awarded for the first time to a University of Delaware professor working in microsystems technology.

June 2, 2008--Sylvain G. Cloutier, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been named the University of Delaware's (UD's) first recipient of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award. Cloutier is one of 39 young faculty members nationwide who have been identified by DARPA as "rising stars" in university microsystems research.

The award program, which is administered by DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office and is now in its second year, is designed to seek out ideas from non-tenured faculty to identify the next generation of researchers working in microsystems technology.

Cloutier said his work combines optics and materials. "We are looking for new ways to generate laser action onto silicon. The goal is to interface high-speed optical links with conventional silicon-based microelectronics, which would dramatically improve on-chip and chip-to-chip data transfer and computing speeds," he said. "The approach we propose is completely different from everything that has been done so far and this is what the DARPA Young Faculty Award program is looking for."

Apart from the silicon-based laser research, Cloutier also is working on flexible solar cells, the optoelectronic properties of carbon nanotubes, and new approaches for blood cell counting and analysis, or cytometry, using laser scattering. In addition, he collaborates with Richard Wolbers, associate professor of art conservation at UD, on laser spectroscopy for the analysis of paint in works of art.

Cloutier said he was pleased to receive the DARPA Young Faculty Award, adding, "It is a fairly recent program and I hope this will make other young faculty members aware of this initiative and pave the way for many more DARPA Young Faculty Awards for UD."

This has been an eventful spring for the UD Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with three of Cloutier's colleagues winning National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development awards. They are Takashi Buma, Ian Appelbaum, and Xiaoming Li, all assistant professors.

Cloutier said he believes the large number of prestigious awards in the department "comes mostly from the fact that our young faculty members are working hard to define new fields of research, instead of simply jumping on the bandwagon."

Cloutier received a bachelor's degree in engineering physics and a master's degree in physics from the Universite Laval in Quebec, and a doctorate in engineering from Brown University. He previously worked for Telops Inc. and ITF Optical Technologies, and has won the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Fellowship Award and the FCAR Industrial-Research Fellowship.

Cloutier joined the University faculty in 2006 and said he came to UD because "I felt that the department and the College of Engineering were willing to provide all the tools a young faculty needs to become successful."

The 39 researchers to be funded were selected through a competitive three-stage process. DARPA initially received brief abstracts from 277 young faculty applicants from universities all over the country. Following a review of the abstracts, DARPA invited 59 abstract authors to attend a DARPA Microsystems Technology Office workshop, discuss their ideas with program managers and learn more about the agency.

For the final selection stage, DARPA invited all 59 researchers to submit proposals explaining their program idea in more detail and identifying the key technical challenges to be overcome. The 39 rising stars were selected based on DARPA's review of 57 submitted proposals.

For more information on the DARPA Young Faculty Award, please Click here.

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