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BU Innovator of the Year: ENG’s Theodore Moustakas

Recognized for scientific contributions with commercial potential


Theodore Moustakas has won BU’s 2013 Innovator of the Year Award, recognizing a faculty member whose research and ideas have led to the formation of companies that benefit society at large.

Jean Morrison, BU provost and chief academic officer, presented the award to the College of Engineering professor of electrical and computer engineering and professor of materials science and engineering, and College of Arts & Sciences professor of physics July 16 at Tech, Drugs and Rock & Roll—the University’s annual networking event for those involved in university technology transfer in the Boston area.

Moustakas is the coinventor of the blue light-emitting diode (LED). His lab develops semiconductors for photonics and other applications. Moustakas is also the founder of RayVio Corp., a venture-backed company that makes ultraviolet LEDs, a compact, energy-efficient, durable, and environmentally friendly substitute for mercury lamps used in water purification and disinfection systems.

“Professor Moustakas is an entrepreneurial scientist, whose inventions have been licensed to a number of companies, including major manufacturers of blue LEDs and lasers—Cree and Philips-LumiLeds in the United States and Nichia in Japan,” says Morrison. “His accomplishments in the past year include nine peer-reviewed papers published and five patent filings.”

The Innovator of the Year Award recognizes faculty members who have conducted peer-recognized world-class research and whose research projects show potential for commercialization.

Moustakas says he is honored to receive the award. “In a research university like ours there are many gifted and talented individuals who deserve such an award,” he says. “Through working in an interdisciplinary field like materials and device physics I have had the privilege to collaborate and benefit from many colleagues at BU as well as at other institutions. And I have been blessed to have mentored so many bright and talented young people over the last 26 years.”

Moustakas’ contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics in optoelectronic materials and devices. He is the coeditor of eight books and the author of chapters in nine books and more than 300 papers in technical journals and conference proceedings. He has been granted 25 US patents and several are pending in the fields of nitride semiconductors, amorphous silicon, and diamond materials. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1994 and of the Electrochemical Society in 1997. In 2003 he received an honorary degree from Aristotle University for outstanding contributions to research and teaching. In 2010 he was awarded the MBE Innovator Award and in 2011 was chosen for ENG’s Distinguished Scholar Award. He is also a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

“Ted has been a prolific academic entrepreneur, but this past year was especially productive with the launch of RayVio,” says Vinit Nijhawan, managing director of the office of Technology Development, which sponsors the award.

Kira Jastive can be reached at kjastive@bu.edu.


3 Comments on BU Innovator of the Year: ENG’s Theodore Moustakas

  • Beth on 07.19.2013 at 9:43 am

    We are also proud to have him as co-Associate Head of the Division of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering!

    • Mike Jones on 09.28.2013 at 10:51 pm

      Except that he didn’t invent the blue LED! Joseph Round accidentally made one before 1910, Jacques Pankove worked extensively on them in the mid-1970’s, and Nakamura made the advances that made them potentially viable in the mid-90’s. Moustakis’s contributions are important, but this article is absolutely incorrect.

  • USAI on 04.24.2015 at 3:07 pm

    Just seeing this article now, but a tremendously important figure in the world of LEDs, so wonderful to see him recognized!

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