EECS faculty member receives U.S. Air Force Young Investigator Research Program grant

MIT researchers (left to right) Riccardo Comin, Luqiao Lui, and Phillip Keathley, have been awarded three-year, $450,000 grants

EECS | Research Laboratory of Electronics | Department of Physics

Luqaio Liu, assistant professor of EECS and a principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), has received a three-year, $450,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). He and two MIT colleagues are among just 31 winners nationwide who were selected from a pool of more than 290 proposals.

Joining Liu are Phillip “Donnie” Keathley, a research scientist in RLE’s Quantum Nanostructures and Nanofabrication group, and Riccardo Comin, an assistant professor of physics.

Awarded by the AFOSR’s Young Investigator Research Program, the grants are intended to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, and support early career development of outstanding young investigators who show exceptional ability and promise for meeting the challenges of science and engineering research related to the Air Force’s mission.

Liu conducts research in the field of spin electronics; in particular, he focuses on nanoscale materials and devices for spin logic, non-volatile memory, and microwave applications. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Peking University and a PhD in applied physics from Cornell University. Before joining MIT, he was a research staffer at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center. Among other honors, he has received the Patent Application Achievement Award from IBM, the Young Scientist Prize in the Field of Magnetism from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, and the William L. McMillan Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions by a young condensed-matter physicist, from the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Keathley develops optical-field-driven electronics, nanoscale free-electron light sources, and nanoscale vacuum-electronic devices for harsh environments. His research experience spans the areas of areas of ultrafast optics, strong-field science, attosecond physics, nanophotonics, and plasmonics. He received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, both in electrical engineering, from the University of Kentucky in 2009, and a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science.

Comin is an experimental condensed matter physicist whose research explores the rich variety of electronic phases that can be crafted and engineered in the broad class of quantum materials. His research focuses on unconventional superconductors, where he studies the interplay between superconductivity and other competing electronic orders in pure materials and in nanostructured devices. For his work using X-ray probes to elucidate the inner anatomy of quantum solids, Comin has received several awards, including a 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship, the 2016 Bryan R. Coles Prize, and the 2015 McMillan Award, among others.

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