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News and Awards

October 2013

Scientists develop heat-resistant materials that could vastly improve solar cell efficiency

Scientists have created a heat-resistant thermal emitter, an element used in specialized solar cells, that could significantly improve the efficiency of the cells. The novel component is designed to convert heat from the sun into infrared light, which can than be absorbed by solar cells to make electricity – a technology known as thermophotovoltaics.

Unlike earlier prototypes that fell apart before temperatures reached 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius), the new thermal emitter remains stable at temperatures as high as 2,500 F (1,400 C).

"This is a record performance in terms of thermal stability and a major advance for the field of thermophotovoltaics," said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University. Fan and his colleagues at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (Illinois) and North Carolina State University collaborated on the project. Their results are published in the Oct. 16 edition of the journal Nature Communications.

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October 2013

World’s First Radio Sundial Dedicated in Memory of Ron Bracewell

Ronald Bracewell. Photo by Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News.The world’s first and only radio sundial has been erected in memory of Ron Bracewell, a professor of electrical engineering and a pioneer in radio astronomy. The sundial was unveiled at the Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Telescope Observatory in New Mexico. It was constructed using pieces of a famous radio telescope that Bracewell built near the Stanford campus.

Bracewell, who died in 2007, was a pioneer in the transition from giant dish antennae to radio telescopes comprised of large-scale arrays of antennae.

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September 2013

Stanford Engineers Build First Computer Based on Carbon Nanotube Technology

Doctoral Student Max ShulakerA team of Stanford engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has the potential to launch a new generation of electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips.

This unprecedented feat culminates years of efforts by scientists around the world to harness this promising material.

The achievement is reported today in an article on the cover of Nature Magazine written by Max Shulaker and other doctoral students in electrical engineering. The research was led by Stanford professors Subhasish Mitra and H.S. Philip Wong.

"People have been talking about a new era of carbon nanotube electronics moving beyond silicon," said Mitra, an electrical engineer and computer scientist and Chambers Faculty Scholar of Engineering. "But there have been few demonstrations of complete digital systems using this exciting technology. Here is the proof."

Experts say the Stanford achievement will galvanize efforts to find successors to silicon chips, which could soon encounter physical limits that might prevent them from delivering smaller, faster, cheaper electronic devices.

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August 2013

August Staff Gift Card Program Awardees Announced

Three staff members each received a $50 gift card in recognition of their extraordinary efforts as part of the department’s August Staff Gift Card Bonus Program. The department received 23 new nominations in August.

Following are this month’s gift card recipients and some of the comments from their nominators:

Doug ChaffeeDoug Chaffee, Faculty Administrator

- “He gets everything done smoothly, meticulously and ahead of time.”

- “Doug is enthusiastic about his job and always willing to help.”

- "He is willing to find a solution even when he is asked to do the impossible. I always feel like he has a genuine concern for the well-being of my lab.”


Denise Murphy, Staffing and Faculty Affairs Manager

- “Denise is always available to help and share her valuable skills and knowledge.”

- “She goes the extra mile to help folks. She tries to get to know you.”

- “She is a key contributor to the SEES committee and has suggested great ideas for the department!”


Emily WangEmily Wang, Graduate Admissions Specialist and Student Life Coordinator

- “Her ideas, energy and enthusiasm were important components for the success of the student life committee.”

- “Emily takes extra steps on a daily basis to make students feel valued as part of the EE community.”

- “She has brought new and fresh ideas to her job and has streamlined how our department communicates with prospective students.”

- “Emily is patient and present and represents our department in a positive light.”

The School of Engineering gave the EE department several gift cards to distribute to staff members who were recognized for going above and beyond. August was the last month for the FY13 program. If SoE continues the program, the department will make an announcement and begin soliciting nominating.

Once again, here is a full list of all the fantastic staff members who were recognized through the program during FY13:

  • Caitlin Azhderian
  • Vickie Carrillo
  • Evelyn Castaneda
  • Diane Castle
  • Doug Chaffee
  • John DeSilva
  • Amy Duncan
  • Keith Gaul
  • Kenny Green
  • Ann Guerra
  • Heather Hill
  • Ashley Kim
  • Meo Kittiwanich
  • Andrea Kuduk
  • Joe Little
  • Mackenzie Mazariegos
  • Denise Murphy
  • Pat Oshiro
  • Tharman Patton
  • Yurika Peterson
  • Karin Sligar
  • Emily Wang
  • Kelly Yilmaz
  • Siejen Yin