In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Jagdish (Jay) Narayan, John C.C. Fan Family Distinguished Chair Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University. Narayan explains his approach to materials science from the vantage point of understanding how materials create and advance technology. He explains his longstanding affiliation with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and he recounts his childhood in Kanpur, northern India. Narayan describes his studies at IIT Kanpur in physics, math, and engineering, and he explains his decision to pursue a PhD at UC Berkeley in materials science under the direction of Jack Washburn. He discusses his thesis research on introducing defects in oxides using electron microscopy, and he describes his postdoctoral studies at Berkeley Lab before forming the Thin Film and Electron Microscopy Group at Oak Ridge. Narayan explains the discovery of laser annealing and rapid thermal processing of semiconductors and its many applications, and he describes his close collaboration with the Division of Materials Science at the DOE. He narrates the discovery of Q-carbon and he explains what it means to find a new material in nature and what the potential commercial applications are, including the creation of synthetic diamonds. Narayan explains his decision to join the faculty at NC State, and his partnership with the state government to develop the Microelectronics Center. He reflects on his contributions as an inventor, particularly relating to the formation of supersaturated semiconductor allows via ion implantation for semiconductor device fabrication. At the end of the interview, Narayan explains how physics drives his research sensibilities, why he is devoted to improving the resolution of electron microscopes, and why he is excited for the future of diamond and c-BN based high-power devices.
Interview with Joseph DeSimone, Sanjiv Sam Gambhir Professor of Translational Medicine and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford. DeSimone describes Gambhir’s pioneering work in molecular imaging, and he explains the value in his multiple departmental appointments for his research agenda. He recounts his upbringing in the Philadelphia area and his undergraduate focus on polymer chemistry at Ursinus College. DeSimone discusses his graduate research in the same field at Virginia Tech, where he studied CO2 polymers under the direction of James McGrath. He explains the opportunities that led to his appointment at UNC Chapel Hill, and he discusses the research advantage of his dual position at NCSU. DeSimone discusses his advisory work for the NSF, and he describes how he became involved in bio-nanotechnology and gene therapy research. He explains his increasing interests in entrepreneurial research. He narrates the origins of the Carbon 3D company and the possibilities he saw in 3D printing. DeSimone reflects on the fantastic financial success of the company, and he explains his decision to return to academia at Stanford, and at the end of the interview, he describes the value of Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One” approach for science research.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Katie Mack, Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University. Mack discusses her website AstroKatie.com, and some of the challenges inherent in conveying scientific concepts over her widely followed Twitter account. She describes her childhood in Long Beach, California, and her early interests in math and science. Mack discusses her undergraduate experience at Caltech, where she studied physics with a special interest in cosmology and the excitement surrounding LIGO, WMAP and the CMB experiments. She explains her decision to go to Princeton, where she studied under the direction of Paul Steinhardt, and the formative time she spent working on theory at Cambridge, first during her graduate school time and then as a postdoctoral researcher. Mack describes the origins of her interests in communicating science to broad audiences and she discusses her focus on axions and inflation for her thesis research. She discusses her subsequent postdoctoral research at the University of Melbourne where she worked with Stuart Wyithe, and she describes some of the cultural difference of physics in Australia. Mack describes her current interests in different versions of dark matter, and she explains her conception of time as it relates to the universe having a narrative with a beginning and an end. She discusses her work on cosmic eschatology and the book project that resulted from these interests. At the end of the interview, Mack discusses her research agenda at NC State, the importance she places on science communication, and she conveys her excitement about future work on dark matter annihilation in the cosmic dawn and the exotic early universe models of dark matter.