RLE 60+ 1946-2006 Where the Future Begins :: Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT
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Colloquia Series


WHAT ARE the limits of today's science and technology, how did we get here, and what lies ahead? The Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its 1946 founding by convening key leaders in forefront research areas from around the world to present their ideas about what the future holds. BEYOND THE LIMITS, a year long colloquia series, explores the boundaries of our current understanding of nature, and assesses the exciting opportunities to deepen that understanding and to apply new discoveries to innovative technologies. Like RLE itself, BEYOND THE LIMITS encompasses a diverse set of disciplines and multiple viewpoints. Learn, discover and celebrate with us as these distinguished speakers present their assessments of where we areÑand their visions for where we are going.


Prof. Stephen Quake

Friday, February 23, 2007
4pm • Room 32-123

See Prof. Quake's talk on MITWorld


Prof. Stephen Quake, Stanford University

Biological Large Scale Integration

The integrated circuit revolution changed our lives by automating computational tasks on a grand scale. My group has been asking whether a similar revolution could be enabled by automating biological tasks. To that end, we have developed a method of fabricating very small plumbing devices Ð chips with small channels and valves that manipulate fluids containing biological molecules and cells, instead of the more familiar chips with wires and transistors that manipulate electrons. Using this technology, we have fabricated chips that have thousands of valves in an area of one square inch. We are using these chips in applications ranging from screening to structural genomics to ultrasensitive genetic analysis. However, there is also a substantial amount of basic physics to explore with these systems Ð the properties of fluids change dramatically as the working volume is scaled from milliliters to nanoliters!


Prof. Stephen R. Quake is Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in mathematics from Stanford University, and a D.Phil. in physics from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. Prof. Quake's interests lie at the nexus of physics, biology and biotechnology, focusing on understanding the basic physics and biological applications of microfluidic technology. His achievements include developing new forms of biological automation and applying these tools to problems of biological and medical interest, including structural genomics, systems biology, microbial ecology, and nanoliter-scale synthetic chemistry. He pioneered the development of Microfluidic Large Scale Integration (LSI), demonstrating the first integrated microfluidic devices with thousands of mechanical valves. Prof. Quake has also been active in the field of single molecule biophysics where he has developed precision measurements techniques on single molecules, including the first successful single molecule DNA sequencing experiments.


Prof. Sir John Pendry

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
4pm • Room 32-123


Prof. Sir John Pendry, Imperial College, London

The Perfect Lens: Resolution Beyond the Limits of Wavelength

The lens is one of the most basic tools of optics but the resolution achieved is limited, as if the wavelength of light defined the width of a pencil used to draw the images. This limit intrudes in all kinds of ways. For example it defines the storage capacity of DVDs where the laser can only 'see' details of the order of the wavelength.

Two type of light are associated with a luminous object: the near field and the far field. True to its name the far field escapes from the object and is easily captured and manipulated by a lens, but high resolution details are hidden in the near field and remain localised near the source and cannot be captured by a conventional lens. To control the near field we have developed a new class of materials with properties not found in nature. These new materials derive their properties not from the atomic and molecular constituents of the solid, but from microstructure which can be designed to give a wide range of novel electromagnetic properties.

The lecture will describe the new materials and the principles behind them and show how they may be used to control and manipulate the near field. Finally a prescription will be given for a lens whose resolution is unlimited by wavelength provided that the ideal prescription for the constituent materials is met.


Prof. Sir John Pendry is recognized worldwide for his pioneering work on the structure of surfaces and their interaction with electrons and photons. He founded the field of metamaterials with a negative refractive index. His work helped to pave the way for perfect lenses and other devices that focus light into a space smaller than its wavelength—beating the so-called "diffraction limit." He has published over 200 scientific papers on subjects such as surface plasmons and negative refractive index materials. From 1975-1981 he worked at the Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire. In 1981, he was appointed professor at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, where he was head of the department of physics and principal of the faculty of physical sciences. He is an honorary fellow of Downing College, Cambridge and an IEEE fellow. In 1984, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society as well as a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. In 2004, he was knighted for his services to science.


Prof. Stephen R. Forrest

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
4pm • Room 10-250


Prof. Stephen R. Forrest, University of Michigan

Electronics on plastic: A solution to the energy challenge, or a pipe dream?

For over 50 years, conjugated organic compounds have been recognized as an important class of electronic semiconductor materials, with potential application to light emission and detection.  Very recently, these materials have been shown to generate extremely high efficient white light, and can also have high detection efficiencies. Due to their very low cost and low deposition temperatures, this suggests that organic thin film semiconductor light emitting diodes and solar cells may present a practical solution to mankind’s greatest challenge: the use and generation of low cost renewable, and largely pollution free energy.  In this talk, I will address both the reality and fantasy of this suggestion.  While organic thin film devices can have extremely high performance, they also suffer from shorter operational lifetime than conventional semiconductor (e.g. silicon) devices.  And, although their low cost has yet to be proven in large scale manufacturing environments, the potentially unlimited promise of this materials class is driving a substantial global research effort to determine their ultimate applicability to meeting our energy challenges.


Prof. Stephen R. Forrest is the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan, and holds concurrent appointments as Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as well as Professor of Physics. He has conducted pioneering research on fundamental issues surrounding photonic materials, devices, and systems, focusing on semiconductor optoelectronic integrated devices and organic thin film optical devices. He first investigated photodetectors for optical communications at Bell Labs, and then joined the faculty at the University of Southern California, continuing on to the faculty at Princeton University. At Princeton, he served as Director of the National Center for Integrated Photonic Technology, and of the Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials. Prof. Forrest also was Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at Princeton. Prof. Forrest has authored 385 papers in refereed journals, and has 135 patents. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and OSA, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is co-founder or founding participant in several companies, including Sensors Unlimited, Epitaxx, Inc., Global Photonic Energy Corp., Universal Display Corp., and Apogee Photonics, Inc.

FALL 2006    

Friday, September 29, 2006
4pm • Room 32-123

See Dr. Malvar's talk on MITWorld


Dr. Henrique S. Malvar, Microsoft

"Recent Advances in Digital Processing of Images and Audio"

We present an overview of recent developments in audio and visual signal processing at Microsoft Research. We briefly discuss technologies such as enhancement of images from digital cameras (raw demosaicing, interactive tone mapping, denoising), generation and browsing of gigapixel images, recovery of 3-D environments from image sets, and audio denoising, bandwidth extension, and enhancement with microphone arrays. We also present live demos of some of these technologies.

Dr. Henrique S. Malvar, an alumnus of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, is a Distinguished Engineer and a Director of Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, where he oversees research in several areas, including the groups Adaptive Systems and Interaction, Communication and Collaboration Systems, Data Management, Exploration and Mining, Databases, Interactive Visual Media, Knowledge Tools, Machine Learning and Applied Statistics, Natural Language Processing, Speech Technology, and Text Mining, Search, and Navigation. Dr. Malvar received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1986. Before coming to Microsoft, Dr. Malvar was Vice President of Research and Advanced Technology at PictureTel (later acquired by Polycom). Prior to that, he headed the Digital Signal Processing Research Group at Universidade de Bras’lia, Brazil. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 1997, and received the Technical Achievement Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society in 2002. He holds over 40 patents and over 20 pending patent applications, and has published over 120 articles in journals and conferences.


Friday, October 27, 2006
4pm • Room 32-123

See Dr. DiVincenzo's talk on MITWorld


Dr. David P. DiVincenzo, IBM

"Quantum Computing: Origins and Directions"

The idea of quantum computing looks natural and invitable today, but at its emergence less than twenty-five years ago it looked inspired and incredible. I will trace at least three independent threads of thought that got the field launched, one of which is tied up with the origins of the RLE. Once we had quantum circuit rules, a notion of secure quantum-bit transmission, and, above all, Shor's factoring algorithm, there was no turning back. I will survey the plethora of activities that are now underway to build a quantum computer, with particular examples from IBM's current work to create a quantum-mechanical world in low-temperature electric circuits.

Dr. David P. DiVincenzo received his Ph.D. (1983), M.S.E. (1980) and B.S.E. (1979) from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1985, he has been a Research Staff Member in the Physical Sciences Department at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. He has worked throughout his career in various problems in condensed matter physics. Since 1993, one of his main interests has been quantum computing; he has important results in quantum information theory, and in the physical realizations of quantum computers. In particular, he is well known for proposing a set of five criteria (commonly called DiVincenzo's checklist) for the physical implementation of quantum computers. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Editor-in-Chief of the Virtual Journal of Quantum Information.


Friday, November 17, 2006
4pm • Room 34-101

See Dr. Moore's talk on MITWorld


Prof. Brian C. J. Moore, University of Cambridge, England

"Using Psychoacoustics to Explore Cochlear Function: Basic Mechanisms and Applications to Hearing Aids"

Over the last two decades there has been a dramatic increase in understanding of cochlear physiology and of the distinct roles of the inner and outer hair cells.  In this lecture, I will start by giving an overview of these roles in terms of their influence on auditory perception. Hearing loss often involves reduced functioning of the inner and outer hair cells.  I will describe the perceptual consequences of this, including loss of frequency selectivity, loss of suppression, loss of sensitivity to temporal fine structure, and loudness recruitment, and I will present simulations of some of these effects.  Specific psychoacoustic tests now exist for measuring cochlear compression and for diagnosing “dead regions” in the cochlea.  I will describe a variety of applications of psychoacoustic tests and models to the design and fitting of hearing aids, and will discuss possible future developments.

Professor Brian C. J. Moore received his B.A. in Natural Sciences in 1968 and his Ph.D. in Psychoacoustics in 1971, both from the University of Cambridge, England. He is currently Professor of Auditory Perception in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. His research interests are: the perception of sound; mechanisms of normal hearing and hearing impairments; relationship of auditory abilities to speech perception; design of signal processing hearing aids for sensorineural hearing loss; methods for fitting hearing aids to the individual; design and specification of high-fidelity sound-reproducing equipment. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and an Honorary Fellow of the Belgian Society of Audiology and the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists. He is President of the Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals (UK). He has written or edited 11 books and over 400 scientific papers and book chapters.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006
4pm • Room 10-250


Dr. William D. Phillips, NIST

"A Bose condensate in an optical lattice: cold atomic gases confront solid state physics"

An atomic-gas Bose-Einstein Condensate, placed in the periodic light-shift potential of an optical standing wave, exhibits many features that are similar to the familiar problem of electrons moving in the periodic potential of a solid-state crystal lattice. Among the differences are that the BEC represents a wavefunction whose coherence extends over the entire lattice, with what is essentially a single quasi momentum and that the lattice potential can be turned on and off, modulated, or accelerated through space. Experiments that are not easily done with solids are often straightforward with optical lattices, sometimes with surprising results.

Dr. William D. Phillips, an alumnus of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, conducted seminal experiments using laser light to cool and trap atoms that earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997. He shared the award with Drs. Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who also developed methods of laser cooling and atom trapping. Dr. Phillips received his doctorate in physics in 1976, and completed his postdoctoral research in RLE. In 1978 he joined the staff of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Gaithersburg, Md., and it was there that he conducted his award-winning investigations. Dr. Phillips developed new and improved methods for measuring the temperature of laser-cooled atoms. In 1988, he discovered that the atoms reached a temperature six times lower than the predicted theoretical limit. One result of the development of laser-cooling techniques were the first observations in RLE and elsewhere, in 1995, of the Bose-Einstein condensate, a new state of matter originally predicted seventy years earlier by Albert Einstein and the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose.



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