Materials Processing Center

This report discusses the FY2001 accomplishments of the Materials Processing Center (MPC) and the Microphotonics Center. The MIT Microphotonics Center was created within the MPC and is currently administered by MPC staff; it will be treated as a separate entity within the context of this report.

The Materials Processing Center is an interdisciplinary center within MIT's School of Engineering. Currently directed by Professor Lionel C. Kimerling (Department of Materials Science and Engineering), the MPC was established in 1980 in response to a recognized national need to improve the materials processing knowledge base and streamline the process of technology transfer within the materials science and engineering field. MPC research covers a broad range of materials and processes.

The mission of the MPC is to provide an environment where students and professionals from industry, government, and academia collaborate on pivotal multidisciplinary issues in materials science in a way that creates new knowledge, produces knowledgeable and capable employees, and promotes the exchange of information in the service of our country and in the context of a global community. In accomplishing its mission, the MPC reaches out to students, faculty, and industry.

The mission of the MIT Microphotonics Center is building interdisciplinary, intramural research teams focused on advancing basic science and emerging technology in areas relevant to the creation of new materials, structures, and architectures to enable the evolution of photnics from single discrete devices to strongly interacting, integrated photonic systems. The research of the center is organized as a highly coupled set of activities that allow for individually driven discovery within a context of goal-oriented research. The basic programmatic units are theory and design, materials and processing, and characterization and performance. Students are expected to master a vertically integrated set of skills that extends to the fabrication of functional prototypes.

Materials Processing Center

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field of materials processing, faculty and research staff affiliated with the Materials Processing Center come from a wide range of fields. MPC-affiliated faculty and research staff number 205 and hail from the Departments of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Architecture, Biology, Chemical Engineering (ChemE), Chemistry, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), Mechanical Engineering (MechE), Nuclear Engineering, Ocean Engineering, and Physics. Faculty and researchers from the Francis Bitter Magnet Lab and Lincoln Lab also participate in MPC programs. For MPC affiliates, the MPC serves as a bridge, via its Industry Collegium, to bring research results to industry's attention.

The MPC Industry Collegium is made up of over 40 domestic and international companies in a range of industries, from traditional steelmaking to biomaterials. For member companies, the Collegium serves as a window on cutting-edge materials research and development at MIT. Researchers at MIT have the common goal of wanting their leading-edge research to relevant and have impact. The MPC Collegium helps to enable that realization of groundbreaking science into market-changing products, providing a pathway for technology transfer between the university and industry. Part of our strategy is to leverage core federal research funding into expanded industrial-academic collaborations.

MPC research volume holds at $7.4M. At the same time, the research volume associated with the Microphotonics Center, was $4M for 20+ faculty (see below). This represents an overall research volume increase of 50 percent for the combined Materials Processing and Microphotonics Centers. The MPC staff during FY 2000-2001 numbered five (including director Professor Lionel Kimerling), and the MPC has recently added an office assistant, bringing total staffing to six.

During much of FY2001, the Materials Processing Center focused on the development and expansion of the Microphotonics Center. The latter center shares staff, office space, and resources with the Materials Processing Center, and is operating as an administrative sub-center of the MPC. Please see below for a description of the activities of the Microphotonics Center during FY2001.


The staff of the Materials Processing Center received recognition from the School of Engineering, receiving the first "Infinite Mile Award for Team Excellence" during the past year. Center staff Dr. George Kenney (Associate Director), Ms. Frances Page (Assistant to the Director), Mr. Jonathan Bartels (Administrative Officer), and Dr. Jennifer Pell (Publications Editor/Webmaster) were recognized for their efforts in launching the Microphotonics Center while maintaining the high standards of the Materials Processing Center.

MPC-affiliated faculty and research staff have over FY2001 been recognized with awards too many to be listed here. Please see the FY2001 issues of our newsletter, the Industry Collegium Report, for details. The report is available online via a link from our home page (see below).

Education Activities

One pillar of the Materials Processing Center is the education of the next generation of materials processing research scientists, engineers, and leaders. To this end, the MPC initiates programs to enhance the intellectual vitality of the materials processing community at MIT. We measure the value of these programs by the breadth of the materials science they address, by the new and creative collaborations among researchers they catalyze, and by the degree of attention to the multidisciplinary-but at the same time fundamental-nature of materials processing they generate.

Materials Unlimited Seminar Series

Now in its third year, the Materials Unlimited Seminar Series highlights the research of senior graduate students identified by faculty members as being among the best in MIT materials-related research. Seminars include a half-hour talk by the featured graduate student, followed by a half-hour panel discussion. Panelists are drawn from MIT and other university faculty, as well as from companies appropriate to the topic. Seminars are well-attended by a diverse audience of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates.

FY2001 featured three talks. One by Andy Luan (DMSE) was on "Ge Photodetectors for Si Microphotonics," and had Professors Lionel Kimerling and Clif Fonstad (MIT), as well as Gary Bjorklund (Nanovation Technologies) as panelists. Jinsang Kim (DMSE/Chemistry) spoke about "Defining Intrinsic Optical Properties of Conjugated Polymers," with Professors Timothy Swager, Michael Rubner (MIT), and Daniel Sandman (University of Massachusetts-Lowell), as well as Dr. Larry Hancock (Nomadics, Inc.) as the panelists. Edward Ahn (ChemE) talked about "Nanostructured Biomaterials for Orthopaedic Applications," with Professors Jackie Ying and Lorna Gibson (MIT) and Professor Myron Spector (Harvard Medical School) as panelists.

Materials Day

The Fifth Annual Materials Day celebration was held in October 2000 under the title and theme "Growing Opportunities: Where Materials and Biology Converge." Approximately 200 from MIT, local universities, and industry registered to attend. Co-Chaired by Professors Douglas Lauffenburger (ChemE/Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health [BEH]) and Robert Cohen (ChemE), the program included talks by Professors Paul Matsudaira (Biology/BEH, "Molecular Springs and Ratchets: Powerful Engines that Drive Cellular Movements"), Anne Mayes (DMSE, "Materials for the Control of Cell Behavior"), Roger Kamm (MechE and BEH, "Mechanical Issues in Biomolecular Materials and Materials/Cell Interactions"), Barbara Imperiali (Chemistry, "Biomolecular Design and Function"), and Linda Griffith (ChemE, "Microfabricated Structures for 3D Tissue Engineering). The late afternoon program featured a poster session open to graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral researchers in materials science. Sixty-nine presenters defended 43 posters, six of which received a $500 prize for "best poster" as judged by a panel of faculty and industry judges. The winners were Edward Ahn (ChemE), Wendy Katstra and Dr. William Rowe (DMSE), Davide Marini (Biology), Dr. Dierdre Pearce (Chemistry), Milos Popovic (EECS), and Michael Shin (ChemE). The Keynote Speaker for the evening program was Dr. James Meyer of DuPont Central R&D, on the topic "The Convergence of Biology and Materials: Exploiting the Opportunities."

Summer Research Internship Program

The MPC and Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) co-sponsor the MPC-CMSE Summer Research Internship Program. This ten-week program brings outstanding juniors and seniors in science or engineering majors from academic institutions around the United States to MIT to work in the laboratories of participating faculty and hear weekly talks on subjects of relevance to budding materials researchers. Summer 2000 saw ten students from the Universities of Southern Mississippi, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Washington, Missouri-Rolla, and Maryland; Iowa State, Utah State; and Case Western Reserve, Yale, and Washington Universities. These students worked with faculty from ChemE, MechE, DMSE, the Active Materials and Structures Lab, the Magnet Lab, and the Technology Lab for Advanced Composites (TELAC) on a wide variety of projects.

During FY2001 the decision was made to expand the Summer Research Internship Program, and the summer 2001 session, just begun at the time of this report, has brought 17 students to MIT.


The MPC also supports the MIT Solar Car Team with a $5K grant. See for information about this student organization.


The second pillar of the Materials Processing Center is its outreach to new (either to MIT and to the MPC) faculty and researchers, as well as to the global materials industry. The center is proactive in inviting faculty to participate in center activities, whether through our publications, educational programs, or research sponsorship. Seed funding for young faculty is available.

Industry Collegium

The MPC Industry Collegium maintained its size and full complement of activities while simultaneously increasing the industrial support base of the Microphotonics Center. One new collegium member in particular has sponsored dedicated research projects with two MPC-affiliated faculty, in addition to its standard collegium membership. Collegium membership currently exceeds 40 companies, domestic and international.


The Microphotonics Center produces two main publications, plus a number of minor brochures and a conference booklet, in pursuit of its outreach goals. Distribution for both of the main publications includes MPC-affiliated MIT faculty and staff (> 200) and members of the MPC Collegium mailing list (> 400). One publication, Materials Research at MIT, is a digest of materials research performed at MIT by MPC-affiliated faculty and others during the previous calendar year. It provides a short summary of each project being researched by faculty members, along with a list of their personnel and publications. Materials Research at MIT 2000 provided the reports of 83 faculty members, a small increase over the two previous years' approximately 75. The 2000 book was also redesigned to improve readability.

The MPC's other major publication is the Industry Collegium Report, a thrice-yearly newsletter on the activities of the Materials Processing Center. During 2000, this newsletter was changed in format and tripled its content page-length. It also qualitatively changed its content focus from short articles on events to longer, more in-depth articles on research. One of its articles was reproduced (with some re-writing) in Tech Talk and resulted in a number of outside inquiries about the research.

Faculty Outreach

The MPC has added several new faculty members to its affiliated faculty pool: Vladimir Bulovic (EECS), Patrick Doyle (ChemE), and Leonid Levitov, Young Lee, Senthil Todadri (Physics).


Research volume statistics have been given above. Details on the FY2001 research by MPC-affiliated faculty can be found in our 2001 annual report, Materials Research at MIT 2001, available online via a link from our home page.

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Microphotonics Center

The MIT Microphotonics Center was announced in the fall of 1998 by the Materials Processing Center and commenced activity by the pooling of intellect and ongoing research funds (now ~$18M for 2000) of a group of faculty. The participating faculty had been working in loose collaboration across a variety of subjects ranging from components for telecommunications and computing to optical coatings. The driving forces for the organization were the amplification of the synergy that had been realized through the multidisciplinary collaborations, and attraction of industrial support to MIT research. The center is currently administered by the staff of the Materials Processing Center. Center activities are highly interdisciplinary. Microphotonics Center-affiliated faculty currently number 21 and represent seven departments across three Schools: MechE, EECS, ChemE, DMSE, Chemistry, Physics, and the Sloan School. During FY2001, we have added Professors Vladimir Bulovic (EECS), Yoel Fink (DMSE), and George Barbastathis, and Sang-Gook Kim (both of MechE) to the pool of faculty affiliated under the Microphotonics Center umbrella.

One of the major Microphotonics Center activities in the last year, and ongoing into the coming year, has been a diligent effort creating the world's best processing facility for photonic components. The research areas have been designed and programed for theory and design work; layered growth of III-V, Si-based dielectric, and organic components; fabrication of prototype passive dielectric-based components (e.g. waveguides) and active compound semiconductor-based components (e.g. lasers, detectors); an area for research on and prototype construction of displays based on novel organic materials; a photonic component packaging facility; and full characterization facilities. Industry partners are supporting the equipment infrastructure, and we are actively supporting the Capital Campaign in a major effort to secure support for the dedicated space. In the near term, we are constructing temporary facilities in distributed "migration" space, so that we can maintain research leadership even as we continue to look forward to a consolidated facility and the synergies that it will bring to MIT Microphotonics Center research.


The Microphotonics Center is dedicated to providing a community of researchers and engineers educated in technical and business-strategy issues of this emerging field. The Center sponsors a weekly seminar series, which is attended by an average of 40+ faculty, postdocs, students of all levels, and visitors. Speakers have included MIT and other university faculty, postdocs and senior graduate students, and industrial visitors. For a list of past and future seminar topics and speakers, see our home page at and follow the "seminars" link.


One particular focal area for Microphotonics Center research is in new materials, structures, and architectures for planar lightwave circuits (PLC's). The goal is fully integrated photonic functionality for these tiny, low-cost units, thereby enabling their deployment in metropolitan area (MAN) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) applications. Our areas of emphasis include dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM, a way of increasing signal-capacity), optical signal conditioning, and on-chip optical clock distribution and I/O for microprocessors. Our research has set world records for performance at 1.3- to 1.55-micron wavelengths (the standard for optical communications). We have achieved the smallest waveguide bends (1 micron bend radius); the smallest ring resonators (1 micron radius); the first coupled quadruple micro-ring resonator structures for high-definition channels; the smallest multimode interferometer (MMI) beam splitters (1x8 in 7.5-by-15 microns); the smallest in-line add/drop filter (0.055 cubic micron volume); the smallest multichannel add/drop and multiplex/de-multiplex (MUX/DEMUX) circuits; the worldwide best performing waveguide-integrated Ge photodetectors 1.3- to 1.55 micron wavelengths; the first erbium-doped silicon light-emitting diode (LED); and the first terahertz (THz) oscillator based on an erbium-doped microcavity. Beyond these, we have engineered a range of components based on photonic crystal concepts to enhance the extraction efficiency of light sources and route signals in high-level cross-connect circuits.

See the 2001 research digest, Bringing New Technology to Light, for information on Microphotonics Center-affiliated research projects and for details on the progress of the groundbreaking research cited above. This book is available online via a link from the Microphotonics Center home page. Microphotonics Center research sponsored by Nanovation Technologies, Inc., alone generated nine new IP filings. In FY2001 Microphotonics Center research volume was $4M for 20+ faculty members, and these faculty members published some 230 papers in the microphotonics area.

In addition, the Microphotonics Center Industry Consortium (see below) began its key initiative, an Information Technology Roadmap Project, in the Fall of 2000. This ongoing study will give a 10-year view down the rapidly changing microphotonics technology highway. Consortium members will use the study findings in optical network architecture, component design and manufacturing, market analysis, technical supply chain analysis, and geographic analysis to focus their R&D and business strategies. The Information Technology Roadmap Project is chaired by Professors Charles Fine (Sloan School) and Rajeev Ram (EECS). It provides background information and updates every fifth week of the weekly Microphotonics Center seminars. The first formal report of the Roadmap Study Committee will be distributed to Microphotonics Center Consortium member companies in early fall 2001.


As with the MPC, outreach, both to researchers within MIT and to industry, is the sine qua non of the Microphotonics Center.

Industry Consortium

The Microphotonics Center has established an industry consortium to create a proactive forum where researchers from MIT and from industry can work as partners in defining and pursuing critical microphotonics R&D. Like the MPC's industry collegium, the Microphotonics industry consortium provides a bridge between MIT technology and potential commercialization. The MIT Microphotonics Center Consortium Founding Member companies share royalty-free licensing to all research funded by the Consortium and participate in the Information Technology Research Project. The Microphotonics Center has obtained commitments from eight companies to join the consortium, and has ongoing talks with others, whose businesses represent the entire industry supply chain from service providers to basic materials suppliers. The consortium will hold a formal kickoff meeting in fall 2001.

Major Agreements for Fiscal Year 2001

In April 2001, MIT and Walsin Lihwa Corporation, the leading Taiwanese DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) manufacturer and cable/wire supplier, signed a major agreement to collaborate on research via the Microphotonics Center. The five-year master sponsored research agreement provides a minimum $3M in the first year to research designs and processes for laser diodes and lightwave components for compact and low-cost DWDM systems. The research alliance with Walsin Lihwa is expected to evolve to a five-year partnership during the coming year.

Program Expansion

During the past year the Microphotonics Center held 15 major research briefings for individual domestic and international corporations. New industry partnerships have resulted in a major equipment donation from Applied Materials and Memoranda of Understanding with two other companies to form Research Alliance relationships with the MIT Microphotonics Center.


The Microphotonics Center launched Bringing New Technology to Light, an annual report of relevant research by Microphotonics Center-affiliated faculty. This volume is similar to the Materials Processing Center's annual research digest, described above.


The Materials Processing Center and the Microphotonics Center continue to serve as a valuable bridge between MIT materials and microphotonics research, respectively, and industry. Our goals for the future include the expansion of this role as well as a reaffirmation of our role in educating the local community in materials and microphotonics through our seminar series and through the MPC-CMSE Summer Research Internship Program. We expect to expand and develop our web presence in the coming year to provide more educational content for the general public on the relevance of the research conducted within our areas.

For both organizations, our outreach efforts both within MIT—to involve more faculty, and particularly young faculty—and outside MIT—to continue to develop company ties to the MPC Industry Collegium and the Microphotonics Center Industry Consortium, as well as through one-on-one research sponsorship or alliance programs-will continue apace. Our publications, including our web site, remain a key part of that effort. The Microphotonics Center Annual Report will be expanded into a research digest that will report on microphotonics-related research for both center-affiliated and non-affiliated faculty who wish to be represented in this report. We will also launch, during 2001, a Microphotonics Center newsletter similar in format to the MPC newsletter.

Lionel C. Kimerling

More information about the Materials Processing Center may be found online at More information about the Microphotonics Center may be found at

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