Leburton named Fellow of the Institute of Physics

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By Tom Moone, ECE Illinois
September 3, 2008

  • Professor Jean Pierre Leburton was recognized for his pioneering research by being named a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.
  • Leburton is investigating the electronic properties of graphene.
  • Leburton is also working on a project with Professor Timp on the possibility for integrating biomolecules and nanoelectronics.

Jean-Pierre  Leburton
Jean-Pierre Leburton

In July, ECE Professor Jean-Pierre Leburton was named a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IOP). Based in London, the IOP is devoted to increasing the understanding and application of physics.

Being named a Fellow by IOP recognizes Leburton’s career, which for most of his career has been on what he calls "the frontier" of the field. As an example, Leburton mentioned his work with quantum wires, which he had investigated more than 20 years ago. Now the research he did those many years ago is coming back into focus. "People are actually thinking of making electronic devices with nanowires, which are much smaller and different objects than two-dimensional planar transistors," he said. "I’ve thought about this for 20 years, and now there are applications in electronics."

In some of his more recent research, Leburton, who is the Gregory Stillman Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been investigating applications of graphene, which is a pure two-dimensional material made up of just one atomic layer of material. "It has some remarkable electronic properties," he said. "I am exploring the properties of graphene under high electric field, which would be the conditions under which it could operate as a transistor."

Leburton is also working on a project in collaboration with ECE Professor Timp on the possibility for integrating biomolecules and nanoelectronics. These biomolecules "have the advantage of storing a very huge amount of information under very complex forms," said Leburton, "but on the other hand, they have the drawback of being extremely slow." Much like his other fields of research, Leburton realizes that it may be some time before applications for this research are commonplace, but it is the pressing forward and imaging the possibilities of science that interests him.

"The technology comes to some point where you realize you can do new things," he said. "And these novelties excite me, so I say, OK, why don’t we investigate that?"

In addition to being an IOP Fellow, Leburton is a fellow in the following organizations: Electrochemical Society (2005), AAAS (2001), the Optical Society of America (2001), American Physical Society (1999), and IEEE (1996). Among his other awards and honors are a best paper finalist at IEEE-NANO 2007, the Quantum Devices Award, ISCS, Eudyna Corp. (2004); Gold Medal for Scientific Achievement from the Alumnus Association, University of Liege, Belgium (2004); Associate, U of I Center for Advanced Study (1999); Member, New York Academy of Sciences (1996); Chevalier dans L'Ordre des Palmes Academiques from the French Government (1993).

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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