Pioneer Series

Paul Daniel Dapkus

William M. Keck Chair in Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering-Electrophysics, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Physics and Astronomy

Monday, March 5th, 2018, 3 – 5PM, EEB 132

Title: Enabling the Photonics Revolution with Novel Materials Technologies

Since the first demonstration of practical LEDs and semiconductor lasers, the advancement of photonics has been paced by advancements in materials technologies. The early demonstration of ultrathin layers and heterojunctions between materials enabled unexpected new physics, device design ideas and performance improvements that have allowed photonic device technologies to advance dramatically. This, in turn, has made major impacts on many areas of our daily life. Solid state lighting, optical communications and interconnection, industrial laser processing, man-machine interfaces, laser printing, and point of sale equipment are all enabled by the availability of efficient, low cost lasers and light sources that employ so called “quantum well” active regions. These complex structures are manufactured economically through the use of a process invented by H. M. Manasevit in 1967 and advanced over the years by many workers including the author and his colleagues and his students at USC.

In this talk, I will describe my journey from the southside of Chicago through university and industrial research labs to USC. I will highlight research activities in which I have been involved that have contributed to the advancements highlighted above and how the unique environment at USC has facilitated these efforts.

Professional Preparation

BS with Honors in Engineering Physics, University of Illinois 1966

MS in Physics, University of Illinois 1967

PhD in Physics, University of Illinois 1970



William M. Keck Distinguished Professor of Engineering

Director, Center for Energy Nanoscience and Technology at USC

University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA


Director, Center for Energy Nanoscience – DoE Energy Frontier Research Center

Department Chair, Electrical Engineering – Electrophysics (2005 – 2008), USC

Director, Center for Photonic Technology at USC (1999 – 2008), USC

Director, National Center for Integrated Photonic Technology (NCIPT) (1991- 1997), USC

Co-Principal Investigator(1989 -1992), National Center for Integrated Photonic Technology (NCIPT), USC

Co-Founder and Director(1986-89: 1993-97), Center for Photonic Technology, USC

Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; 1982- present

Manager, Microelectronics R&D Center, Rockwell International , Thousand Oaks, CA; 1979-1982

Supervisor, Electronics Research Center, Rockwell International,  Anaheim, CA ; 1976-1979

Member of Technical Staff, Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ ; 1970-1976

Leadership Activities 

  1. Professor Dapkus has trained a cadre of students (> 50) who now form an important core of technology development within the LED and laser industry. This group includes a founder of Cree Lighting (formerly Nitres) and Soraa, the chief technologist at LatticePower, the Director of Device Engineering, Lumileds, Founder and CEO of E2O, Founder and CTO of T-Networks, several senior engineers at Lumileds, Infinera, Intel, Samsung, HP Labs and LG, as well as several start-up companies. He has also educated five individuals who have pursued University faculty careers with research emphases in similar areas. These people all received a broad science and technology education as PhD students in Professor Dapkus’ interdisciplinary group.
  2. Professor Dapkus has helped to found three companies in the area of compound semiconductor materials and devices.
  3. As one of the early innovators in MOCVD technology, Professor Dapkus’ research effort has maintained a broad program of basic materials science and materials science applications as well as fundamental device science and technology that has trained over 55 people in the thirty-five years he has been in academe.
  4. He has published over 500 papers in reviewed scientific journals.
  5. He has won numerous awards including the John Tyndall Award of IEEE and OSA, the IEEE David Sarnoff Award, the Heinrich Welker Award, the Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award of the OSA, The SPIE Technology Achievement Award, the IEEE Photonics Society Engineering Achievement award, the IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer Award.
  6. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.
  7. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, APS, AAAS, and the OSA
  8. He has received support for his research from a broad array of funding agencies including DARPA, ONR, NRL, ARO, BMDO, AFOSR, NSF, DoE, NREL, ARL.
  9. He has led three National Centers in Photonics and one Energy Frontier Research Center. These are multi-investigator multiyear research and development activities.