Professor Emeritus Moustakas Named MRS Fellow

by Allison Kleber

Professor Theodore Moustakas has been named to the 2022 Materials Research Society (MRS) class of Fellows; the latest in a lengthy list of accolades that have been awarded to the Professor Emeritus over his long and accomplished career. The title of Fellow is awarded via a rigorous selection process, to preeminent members whose research has made an exceptional contribution to the field, at an international level. The MRS recognizes Professor Moustakas “for pioneering research in GaN and other nitride semiconductors and the development of innovated [sic] growth methods for visible and UV LEDs, which have been adopted by industry.”

To say that his work has been “adopted by industry” may be putting it a bit mildly; Professor Moustakas is widely known for his work on the ubiquitous blue III-nitride LEDs which are used by countless computers, phones, and other devices around the world; quite probably including the one currently displaying this article. His patented buffer-layer process allows gallium nitride, the compound used to emit that familiar bright-blue light, to work with semiconductor crystals in spite of the small wavelengths involved.

Professor Moustakas received his PhD from Columbia University in 1974, and founded the Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Laboratory here at BU in 1987, which he led until his retirement in 2016. The lab initially focused on studying the growth and properties of III-nitrides, before expanding into the development of III-nitride optoelectronic devices, with a particular emphasis on LEDs and lasers. He was instrumental in the foundation of the Photonics Center in 1993; the building which houses both the titular Center, and of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering itself. In 2014, he was named the inaugural Distinguished Professor of Photonics and Optoelectronics; the College of Engineering’s first named, endowed professorship.

In addition to the Materials Research Society, Professor Moustakas is a Fellow of IEEE, the Electrochemical Society, the American Physical Society (APS), and a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He won numerous awards for innovation, scholarship, and teaching. He holds numerous US patents and is the co-editor of eight books, including Gallium Nitride I (Academic Press, 1998) and Gallium Nitride II (Academic Press, 1999), the author of chapters in eight books, and more than 360 papers in technical journals. He remains a highly-cited pioneer and expert, and has licensed IP to over 40 companies worldwide.