A historical look at my research activities might suggest more of a random walk than a strategic plan. I have published in areas ranging from the fundamental mechanisms behind superconductivity to techniques for nanolithography. In reality, my research directions are less driven by the area or technique than by an interest in problems that are both intellectually challenging and have the potential to impact society or solve an important problem. Coupled with a healthy curiosity, and the perhaps mistaken belief that a physicist can contribute in any field, this interest has drawn me in many different directions and into quite a few exciting scientific adventures.
Meeting the energy needs of the future in a truly sustainable manner is one of the grand challenges of the 21st century, and a major component of my research at Mines involves the Materials Physics of renewable energy systems and in particular Photovoltaics. I am also exploring new ways of integrating optical elements onto a chip. If we can make optically integrated circuits using the same technology as silicon chips, it would enable entirely new classes of integrated circuits with applications from health to high peformance computing. The unique and intriguing properties of quantum confined systems and nanostructures have been a career long interest, and their application to photovoltaics and nanooptics are areas of special emphasis for me. Since many of the interesting and important challenges in science lie at the boundaries between traditional disciplines, I tend to work at these boundaries.
Students and post docs in my group develop skills in basic physics, materials science, device physics, chemistry, engineering, novel characterization, and, while I am primarily an experimentalists, they even dabble in computation. I also enjoy collaboration and the chance to work with the next generation of scientists, so my lab is often a busy place with undergraduates, graduate students, post docs, and visitors actively pursuing interesting research directions and interacting with one another on common goals.