Power Play: Mandrus Helping Shape Future of Modern World

 

david_mandrusProfessor David Mandrus has his own spin on the future.

Mandrus, of the College of Engineering’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, recently was chosen by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as a Moore Synthesis Investigator, a highly selective honor that carries with it $1.7 million in funding.

If the breakthroughs Mandrus is studying come to fruition they could revolutionize everything from appliances to computing, as his work focuses on using both the charge and spin—the intrinsic magnetism—of electrons to shape the future of electronics.

“The idea is to control electrons using magnetic fields as well as electric fields,” said Mandrus. “This will lead to new device concepts and a new generation of electronic devices that require very little power to operate.”

Mandrus is a specialist in the discovery and growth of new quantum materials, which he says “are the engine that drives progress in condensed matter and materials physics.”

These materials encompass both topological and strongly correlated electronic phases, and are interesting because they often display striking and unexpected phenomena that challenge our fundamental understanding of matter and can lead to revolutionary new technologies.

“It is our job to keep theorists awake at night,” Mandrus laughed. “I’m thrilled to be chosen to help lead efforts forward.”

In simplistic terms, Mandrus’s work involves the study of conductive materials at increasingly smaller scales, to the point of being nanoscopic.

Mandrus will also be working to create magnetic semiconductors that will be compatible with a new push toward two-dimensional semiconductors.

By exploiting the magnetic properties and adding them to “traditional” electronics, the amount of data flow increases, while the amount of power and thermal output decreases.

It is that work on the cutting edge of technology that led to his recognition by the Moore foundation.

“This is a prestigious designation and it speaks to the amount of respect they have for his work,” said William Dunne, associate dean for research and technology in the College of Engineering. “This isn’t something you can apply for, but rather something where they ask you to submit a proposal.

“Even getting to that point is an honor, but for them to choose you is very special.”

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was founded to help nourish ideas ranging from science and environmental conservation to patient care by investing in research and development.

For more information on the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, visit moore.org.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)

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