Professor Steven DenBaars receives The ISIC Quantum Devices Award

Prof. Steven P. DenBaars The Quantum Devices Award, May 10, 2021

For the development and commercialization of non-polar and semi-polar quantum well laser diodes in laser lighting, automotive and general illumination

Two UC Santa Barbara professors — Steven DenBaars(link is external) and John Bowers(link is external)  — were recognized with Compound Semiconductor Week 2021's top two awards, the ISCS Quantum Devices Award (DenBaars) and the IPRM Award (Bowers).

A Leader in Solid State Lighting
“I am so honored by this award from ISCS, and especially want to thank my colleagues, professors Shuji Nakamura, James Speck and Umesh Mishra, John Bowers and the hardworking UCSB students for their contributions to these wonderful inventions,” said DenBaars, who was recognized by the International Symposium on Compound Semiconductors. DenBaars was cited “for the development and commercialization of non-polar and semi-polar quantum well laser diodes in laser lighting, automotive and general illumination.”

“These materials are having a huge worldwide impact in energy efficient lighting, communications and electronics,” he said.

The materials he is referring to are nitride semiconductors, known for their wide bandgap and their applications in ultraviolet to visible spectrum optoelectronics. Gallium nitride in particular is a foundation for one of the more recent breakthroughs in solid-state lighting: the bright blue LED, which opened the door to the white LED, and the subsequent proliferation of highly efficient solid state lighting all over the world.

DenBaars, who co-directs the university’s Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center(link is external) (SSLEEC), and his colleagues have gone beyond regular LEDs to develop solid state laser lighting, which is several times more efficient and powerful. The technology has been embraced by the automotive and general illumination industries for its brightness, efficiency and the versatility it provides to designers. The powerful, directed beams of solid state lasers show great potential in other applications as well, including sensors, displays and communications, and in the biomedical and industrial fields.

According to ISCS, DenBaars “has made seminal contributions to the science of nitride materials, and is recognized as an international authority on the growth and structure of nitride semiconductors by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). He has performed pioneering work on polar, non-polar and semi-polar Gallium nitride (GaN) materials and devices.”

A professor of materials who holds the university’s Mitsubishi Chemical Chair, DenBaars joined the campus in 1991. In 1997 he and fellow GaN expert Umesh Mishra co-founded Nitres, Inc., one of the first GaN startups in the United States. Nitres was acquired by Cree, Inc. in May 2000. With fellow professor Shuji Nakamura, UCSB alum James Raring and collaborator Paul Rudy, he co-founded SLD Laser in 2013 to pioneer blue lasers and laser lighting products. SLD Laser was acquired by Kyocera Corporation in 2021.

DenBaars is a member of the National Academy of Inventors and the National Academy of Engineers. He is also a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Established in 2000 by Fujitsu Quantum Devices, Ltd., the ISCS Quantum Devices award is given  to individuals for pioneering contributions to the fields of compound semiconductor devices and quantum nanostructure devices which have made a major scientific or technological impact in the past 20 years.

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