Nuclear engineering head elected to Fellow position - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Nuclear engineering head elected to Fellow position

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Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:00 am

Current computer technology will no longer be useful, come two, three or four years, says head of the School of Nuclear Engineering Ahmed Hassanein, recently elected Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics.

Nanolithography is the new technology required to continue advances in computer technology, Hassanein said. Nanolithography, for which he received his distinction of Fellow, requires using plasma to generate photon beams and thereby integrate more transistors on the same chip to make computers faster.

Semiconductor device providers Semi-Tech Corporation and Intel Corporation contacted Hassanein in 2000, hoping to utilize Hassanein's knowledge of nanolithography to generate advances in computer technology. Hassanein accepted and has been working on the project ever since.

"We are making significant progress," Hassanein said, adding that big computer companies such as Intel should be able to make use of the advancements in about four years' time.

Hassanein attributes this short time span to his fellow staff members.

"We have outstanding research professors," he said. "We have the most research professors than any other school at Purdue."

Hassanein was one in 67 recipients of the honor, out of 180,000 constituents from 168 countries.

Sivanandan Harilal, assistant research professor in nuclear engineering, said he thinks Hassanein's recognition was no doubt well deserved. "He has exceptional capabilities from plasma to bio(logy) to nano(lithography)," Harilal said.

Despite his recognition as Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics, Hassanein feels pressure to "do something better than before." One project Hassanein is passionate about pertains to nuclear fusion energy. Through funding from the United States Department of Energy, Hassanein and his fellow colleagues attempt to duplicate the effects of the sun on Earth in the laboratory. Nuclear fusion reactions involve the release of tremendous energy through the fusion of two light atomic nuclei into a heavier nucleus.

"If this works, it will solve the whole energy crisis problem," Hassanein said.

The nuclear fusion reactors are fueled by sea water, and maybe in 50 years, sufficient energy through nuclear fusion reactors could be present for the world to consume, he added.

As head of the school, Hassanein is heavily involved with the Center for Materials Under eXtreme Environment, an online portal for students and faculty to exhibit research in nuclear, material science, plasma research and education.

"(The Center) is a unique center that combines state-of-the-art experimental devices and computational work," Hassanein said. The objective is to compare experimental lab results with computer simulation results and make improvements accordingly.

Current research in interactions of high-intensity, modulated energy beams, as well as other research in the past, has attracted many students both domestically and abroad, Hassanein said. After viewing the website, publications and research, students have approached him and requested to work with him, he added.

Hassanein arrived at Purdue University in 2007 after 20 years of research experience at Argonne National Laboratory. Argonne is one of the United States Department of Energy's oldest and largest national laboratories for science and engineering research. Hassanein became department head of the School of Nuclear Engineering about one and a half years ago, after having worked as professor for a short while.

"He is totally eligible to work as department head," Harilal said. "After moving to Purdue, he published 30-40 papers in 3-4 years."

Hassanein was given the opportunity to assist and work with international and domestic students on research projects while at Argonne, and that was one of the reasons he migrated to academia.

"(It is) always good to work with dynamic, young people," Hassanein said.

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