Congratulations to PhD student, Mark Knight! Mark has been awarded the Nettie S. Autrey Fellowship for 2012-2013.
Mark W. Knight, a sixth-year graduate student in electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Rice University, has been awarded the 2012-13 Nettie S. Autrey Fellowship for his research in optical nanoantennas.
The award is given annually by the Graduate Council to a graduate student in science or engineering who demonstrates “outstanding achievement and promise.”
Knight was nominated for the fellowship by his adviser, Naomi Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in ECE, and director of the Rice Laboratory for Nanophotonics; and by Behnaam Aazhang, the J.S. Abercrombie Professor and chair of ECE.
Optical nanoantennas have already permitted researchers to improve the efficiency of sensors, medical therapies, communications and sub-wavelength optics. Nanoantennas interact with light and generate powerful local electromagnetic fields and intense heat.
By attaching nanoantennas to silicon, with the antenna tuned to interact with infrared light, Knight and his colleagues showed they could extend the frequency range for electricity generation into the infrared. When infrared light strikes the antenna, it creates plasmons which are coherent oscillations of the free electrons within each nanoantenna.
The breakthrough holds promise for creating higher-efficiency solar panels and silicon-based infrared detectors. In the May 6, 2011, issue of the journal Science, Knight, Halas and two other researchers published their findings as “Photodetection with Active Optical Antennas.”
The Autrey Fellowship selection process is competitive and by nomination only. It provides a stipend of $13,500 for the coming academic year.
Knight received his B.A. in physics from Carleton College in 2006, and a master’s degree in ECE from Rice in 2008. He expects to earn his Ph.D. in 2013.