Moustakas Named National Academy of Inventors Charter Fellow


Collins, Grinstaff, and Gilchrest also to be honored

Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE, Physics)
Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE, Physics)

Many engineers would be thrilled about having even one patent to their names, but Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE, Physics) goes above and beyond.

The inventor currently has 31 patents on projects, 17 of which he earned as a professor in Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Moustakas earned many of these through his work developing nucleation steps for growing gallium nitride on glass, silicon, sapphire and other substrates. This discovery is an essential component of manufacturing blue LEDs, which are used in both solid state lighting applications and highly-efficient deep ultraviolet LEDs, which will likely provide air and water purification in the future.

In recognition of his accomplishments, the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) recently named Moustakas a Charter Fellow, the society’s highest professional distinction.

“This is a very important honor in my career, and I am very pleased to have a chance to play a greater role in the academy,” said Moustakas, adding, “I look forward to contributing.”

The recipients represent more than 3,200 U.S. patents and 54 prestigious research universities and non-profit research institutes. The Fellows include eight Nobel Laureates, two Fellows of the Royal Society, 11 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and three recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

“Professor Moustakas was a pioneer in discovering the properties and potential applications of the nitride family of semiconductors,” said Professor David Castañón, ECE Department Chair. “Since joining Boston University in 1987, he has created a world class program involving fabrication, characterization and application of semiconductors using this family of materials.”

Moustakas is among 98 innovators, including BU College of Engineering Professors James Collins (BME, MSE, SE) and Mark Grinstaff (BME, MSE), to earn this title.

“I’m not surprised to see two other Fellows from the College on the list,” said Moustakas. “Boston University has become a powerhouse when it comes to research, and Professors Collins and Grinstaff are leaders in their areas.”

Moustakas has had an incredible impact on his field, too. In addition to his list of patents, which continues to grow, he has written hundreds of scientific journal papers and invited lectures, co-edited eight books, and holds more than 8,000 citations in research literature. He is also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Electrochemical Society.

Recognized as an incredible professor, too, Moustakas was awarded the ECE Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998.

“Beyond his prolific scientific output, his work has generated numerous patents and practical commercial applications in lasers and light-emitting diodes, making his program a paragon for translational basic research at Boston University,” said Castañón.

Today companies like Philips Global, Cree Inc., Osram, and the Nichia Corporation continue to make use of his early patents.

“Now you can find LEDs used in everything from computer displays to televisions,” said Moustakas. “You’re starting to see them used more in outdoor lighting, too, such as in traffic lights, and they are progressively adapted for general illumination.”

Currently, much of Moustakas’s work focuses on finding ways to provide the same amount of light for less than half the energy through white-light LEDs. He is also exploring how UV-radiation might be used to kill harmful bacteria and viruses.

Moustakas, Collins, and Grinstaff will be inducted as Fellows by the U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Margaret A. Focarino, during the 2nd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, on February 22, in Tampa, Florida, where they will receive a trophy and rosette pin. In addition, NAI Fellows will be recognized with a full page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education on January 18, in the January 2013 issue of Inventors Digest, and in a future issue of Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.

The mission of the NAI is to honor academic invention; recognize and encourage inventors; enhance the visibility of university and non-profit research institute technology and innovation; encourage the disclosure of intellectual property; educate and mentor innovative students; and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

Barbara Gilchrest, professor and chair-emeritus of the Department of Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, was also elected as an NAI Charter Fellow.

-Mark Dwortzan and Rachel Harrington (