An interview with Chennupati Jagadish: his motivation, inspiration and advice for future scientists

Chennupati Jagadish

Professor Chennupati Jagadish is the Section Editor for the Semiconductors and photonics materials and devices section of Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics (JPhysD). He has been an active member of the Editorial Board for many years, despite his extremely busy schedule – something that stems from being in high demand all over the world. In fact, he remarked in this recent Guardian article: “They say that rest is for the weak. I say, ‘Look, I’m having fun.’ Science is fun for me and when you’re having fun you don’t really look at how long you’re working.”.

Recently we congratulated Professor Jagadish on his IEEE Nanotechnology Pioneer Award.

Once again we have cause for celebration as Professor Jagadish was recently recognised in the Australia Day Honours as a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), the highest civilian honour given by the Australian Government, for his “eminent service to physics and engineering, particularly in the field of nanotechnology, to education as a leading academic, researcher, author and mentor, and through executive roles with national and international scientific advisory institutions”.

We took this opportunity to ask Professor Jagadish about what motivates him in his current research, what inspired him to become a researcher and educator, and what advice he would give to scientists of the future:

Which research projects are you and your group currently working on?

Our current focus is on nanotechnology and use of nanotechnology for applications in optoelectronics like lasers, photodetectors, energy (solar cells and photocatalysis) and neuroscience (growth of neuronal networks to understand brain functions).  We have worked on quantum dots and demonstrated quantum dot lasers, photodetectors and solar cells including integrated quantum dot optoelectronic devices.  In recent years, our focus has been on nanowire based lasers, photodectors, solar cells, plasmonics and neuronal circuits. Combining plasmonic cavities with nanowires is opening up lot of opportunities to explore new physics and enhance the quantum efficiency of nanowires.

What motivated you to pursue this field of research?

Nanotechnology is the technology of the future.  Our ability to engineer materials at atomic and molecular scale is truly fascinating and this leads to innovative quantum devices and sensors.  Our research involves physics, materials science, electronics engineering and neuroscience making this truly interdisciplinary and allowing us to pursue innovative science questions.

Where do you think the field is heading?

This field is now moving into applications after the first two decades or so, where we focused on engineering materials in a controllable manner to obtain innovative properties. Now, the field is moving towards demonstration of innovative devices and application of these devices to solve real world problems.

What current problem facing humanity would you like science to provide a solution to?

Energy is the number one problem for the humanity. Once we solve energy problems, we can solve other problems such as water security, food security.  Energy needs to be based on environmentally friendly sources.

Who inspired you to become a scientist?

My father was a school teacher and he wanted me to be a scientist or engineer.  My two high school teachers made a huge difference in my life.  I lived with my maths and science teacher during my high school as I came from a small and remote village in India. There was no high school in my village the school in the neighbouring village was about three and a half km away!

One teacher taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance and persistence whereas another taught me to be humble, simple, kind and generous to others.  The influence of both of these on me was significant and without their help, I would be tilling the land in India.

Finally, what advice would give to young scientists?

Think positive, work hard, work smart and never give up.  Be generous to your students, young colleagues and collaborators. Generosity never hurts and pays off in the longer term.  Look after your health; spend quality time with your family while pursuing your passion. Get involved in professional societies and serve the community through Journal Editorial Boards.

Professor Jagadish has published many research articles and Guest Edited several special issues in JPhysD and other IOP Publishing journals. Read some of the latest:

Enhanced luminescence from GaN nanopillar arrays fabricated using a top-down process N Parvathala Reddy et al 2016 Nanotechnology 27 065304

Room temperature GaAsSb single nanowire infrared photodetectors Ziyuan Li et al 2015 Nanotechnology 26 445202

Effects of high temperature annealing on defects and luminescence properties in H implanted ZnO K S Chan et al 2014 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 47 342001

Special issue on nanowires with Anna Fontcuberta i Morral

Special cluster issue on emerging non-volatile memories: magnetic and resistive technologies with Bernard Dieny

Special cluster issue on nanostructured photovoltaics with Lan Fu and H Hoe Tan

CC-BY logoThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Photo courtesy of Chennupati Jagadish.

Categories: Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics

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