Research shows the success of a bacterial community depends on its shape.
Professor Marc A. Kastner, whose recent discovery of the single-electron transistor has provided new insight into the behavior of very small semiconductor devices, has been named director of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE).
The center is dedicated to fostering collaborative research in the fundamental science of materials as well as the engineering of materials for technological applications. With resources from the National Science Foundation, it directly supports interdisciplinary research groups working on problems too large to be addressed by individual faculty members and their students.
The CMSE also maintains and makes available to members of the scientific community sophisticated facilities and equipment necessary for materials research. In addition, the CMSE supervises the Bush Building (Bldg. 13), which houses materials researchers from four departments in the School of Science and the School of Engineering.
The appointment was announced by Professor J. David Litster, vice president and dean for research.
Dr. Kastner, the Donner Professor of Science in the Department of Physics, succeeds Professor Bernhardt J. Wuensch of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who has completed a five-year term as CMSE director. In making the announcement, Professor Litster expressed his appreciation for Professor Wuensch's "thoughtful stewardship" during that period.
Professor Kastner, a member of the Department of Physics since 1973, holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry and an MS and PhD in physics, all from the University of Chicago.
His own research, like that sponsored by the CMSE, has always been highly collaborative. His early work with the late Professor David Adler of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science led to the Valence Alternation Model which explained many properties of semiconducting glasses. The discovery of the single-electron transistor grew out of an effort, begun under the auspices of the Research Laboratory of Electronics and carried out with Professors Dimitri A. Antoniadis and Henry I. Smith of EECS, to study the behavior of electrons in nanometer-sized semiconductor devices.
Professor Kastner's ongoing joint research with Dean of Science Robert J. Birgeneau to understand the mechanism that causes high-temperature superconductivity has been directly supported by the CMSE and led to the Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment Award from the Department of Energy's Division of Materials Sciences in 1988.
Professor Kastner has served as head of the Division of Atomic Condensed Matter and Plasma in the Department of Physics and as an associate director for the Consortium for Superconducting Electronics. Next year he will complete a term as councilor at large for the American Physical Society (APS) and a two-year term on the APS executive board.
His honors include fellowships in the APS and in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A version of this article appeared in the September 8, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 5).