All posts by DanReich

Academia: Radiation in the THz range

With my college career coming to an end, I decided to start a series of posts entitled “Academia”. In each post, I will discuss a project or research I have been involved in.

In this first post of the series, I will briefly discuss my research in terahertz generation. In the spring of 2007, I had the distinct honor of working under Professor Leon McCaughan, a professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Under his supervision, I studied the properties of:

  • Guided wave photonic devices and circuits
  • Quantum optics
  • Far infrared (terahertz) generation and spectrocopy
  • Waveguide and photonic crystal theory

More importantly, I had the opportunity to take part in one of his research projects and work along side of other extremely talented students and researchers . A description of the project:

“Terahertz (THz) radiation is of great current interest for imaging science and technology. Applications include time-domain spectroscopy (e.g., the dielectric response of molecules in the far infrared), medical imaging in a new radiation band, detection and imaging for homeland security and defense applications, as well as communications.”

Within the project, I spent many hours in the Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronic Devices developing photolithography and reactive ion etching techniques to produce a THz photonic crystal in Silicon. By creating this photonic cystal, we were attempting to create a control in order to provide tunablity to the light source. Prior to the fabrication of the 2D crystal, we also undertook some computer-based model calculations.

Pictures from the research here:

Picture of 2D photonic crystals.

2-D photonic crystal integrated ‘superstate’

Myself and two of my colleagues in the lithography bay.

Description of the project (can be found on www.nsf.gov)

Thank you to Professor Leon McCaughan for a truley invaluable experience!

Investing in the Machines

Investing in internet companies is relatively straight forward. Find good people with a good idea, and let the programming begin. But what about all of the other industries out there? I recently read a post by GigaOM’s

“I don’t want to believe it’s the end of startups trying their hand against the likes of AMD or Intel, but until we come to a breakthrough in materials, ways to reduce the IP hurdles or the cost of masks and design, entrepreneurial chip engineers will have to focus on power management and cooling, MEMS and RF.”

There is a bit of a catch 22 here. The scientific breakthroughs needed to make chip-making more cost effective are going to either come from the large chip makers themselves (Intel, AMD) or research institutions and universities. Either way, the chip makers maintain their lead in the market place (they may even buy up some of the patents), or the small startups will still require that big initial investment in the machines, lithography labs, clean rooms and every other expensive component needed.

Might it be beneficial for Intel to initiate a program with a model that looks like Y-Combinator or Betaworks, but for microprocessor design and manufacturing? If so, beneficial to who?

Graduating and the pursuit

Is it happiness? Is it financial security? Is it location? Is it independence? How do we inevitably select a career path? This May, I will be graduating from the University of Wisconsin (Electrical Engineering) and will be working for Lotame, a relatively new online media company. If I were to guess where or what I would be doing a year ago, I would most likely tell you I would be attending some form of graduate school.

But this is not the case.

Where will you be a week from today? A year? 

What industry will you be in? More importantly WHY?

Back and Blogging

My first encounter with blogging started off as a place to post anything and everything myself and my friends thought was worth looking at. Whatever it was. Just a place to share cool and interesting articles, pictures, etc. Originally, the blog consisted of two authors, myself, and a buddy of mine who is all about music and new media. Since then, we have both realized what is important to us, and what we would like to share. This blog represents that new commitment to myself and to you.

My eyes, ears, and mind are always open to new thoughts and ideas. Time for a conversation. I am Dan Reich, and this is my blog.