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Nelson Tansu and the spirit of innovation

In December, Professor Nelson Tansu was named as a 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Election to NAI Fellow status is considered to be "the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society."

Tansu, Lehigh's Daniel E. '39 and Patricia M. Smith Endowed Chair Professor in Photonics and Nanoelectronics, is widely regarded as one of the world's leading researchers and inventors in the field of semiconductor optoelectronics materials and devices.

As founding director of Lehigh's Center for Photonics and Nanoelectronics (CPN), Tansu leads a multidisciplinary research team encompassing electrical engineers, material scientists, applied scientists, and physicists that develops material devices and device architecture.


Read the full version of this story in the Lehigh Engineering News Center.

"Lehigh's research environment is purpose-built to foster interdisciplinary team science," says Tansu. "Innovation is often found where disciplines intersect—as are the really fascinating research problems. This is exactly what CPN researchers aspire to explore. We build integrated teams that address larger, more complex problems in a manner that allows us to develop more impactful solutions."

Tansu says his proudest accomplishments thus far are not necessarily patentable.

"The product of an academic research lab is not just technology," he says. "Much more impactful are the students who engage in our work and come out the other side ready to identify and explore their own ways to change the world."

PhDs minted in Tansu's lab have gone on to technical leadership roles at places like Philips, Apple, Intel, Cree, and Veeco, while other graduates have found success in faculty roles at schools such as Case Western Reserve University, University of Tulsa, Rochester Institute of Technology, Clarkson University, and KAUST (Saudi Arabia).