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Dawn Levy, News Service (650) 725-1944; e-mail:

Sloan fellowships awarded to two Stanford researchers

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has selected Hongjie Dai, assistant professor of chemistry, and Andrea Goldsmith, assistant professor of electrical engineering, to receive Sloan Research Fellowships. Dai and Goldsmith were among 104 outstanding young scientists and economists at 51 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada chosen to receive $40,000 grants over a two-year period.

The fellowship program aims to support promising researchers in the early stages of their careers. Twenty-six former Sloan Fellows have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.

Dai's research crosses the borders of chemistry, physics, materials science and biophysics. He focuses on the chemical synthesis of nanostructured materials and the exploration of their properties and potential applications.

"Materials with nanometer dimensions behave differently from bulk materials," Dai says. "Our work is centered around how to synthesize nanoscale materials by chemical means, especially in ways that allow us to readily characterize them and understand their properties. The Sloan Fellowship is a great catalyst to further our effort in this area."

Dai has developed various chemical vapor deposition methods to synthesize carbon nanotubes that are one-millionth the diameter of a human hair. Instead of making these tiny wires in random forms, his group devised approaches to produce ordered architectures of nanotubes on surfaces. Based on synthesis, he has been able to obtain nanowire devices and systematically characterize the electrical, mechanical and chemical properties of nanowires.

"There are many wonders in the nanoworld," Dai says. Nanowires may be used as tiny transistors and electromechanical devices including transducers that convert mechanical movements into electrical signals. They also may find application in high-frequency telephone lines to carry voice and data and in nanoscale computer chips. Dai also has shown that nanowires can be used as miniature chemical sensors with extremely high sensitivity.

Dai received his bachelor's degree in 1989 from TsingHua University in Beijing, his master's degree in 1991 from Columbia and his doctorate in 1994 from Harvard. He did postdoctoral research at Harvard and Rice before coming to Stanford in 1997. He received the Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award in 1997, a Terman Fellowship in 1998 and a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering in 1999.

Goldsmith's research focuses on wireless technologies. She envisions speedy, reliable information exchange between low-power, portable devices. "I am extremely pleased and honored to receive the Sloan Fellowship, which will help to support my research in multimedia wireless networking," she says.

"Future wireless networks will allow people on the move to communicate with anyone, anywhere, and at any time using a range of multimedia services," she explains. "Wireless communications will also enable a new class of intelligent home electronics that can interact with each other and with the Internet. Wireless video will support applications such as distance learning and remote medicine, and self-configuring wireless networks will provide the baseline technology for widespread sensor networks and automated highways."

But turning this dream into a reality will require technological advances. Researchers will have to develop hardware for handheld devices that can support multimedia applications, as well as find techniques for improving the speed and quality of wireless communications. They will have to come up with better ways to share airspace to accommodate many different wireless applications. They will have to design multiuser systems that can adapt to user requirements, channels and traffic patterns. They will have to integrate those systems into networks. To accomplish these feats, they will have to transcend the traditional design boundaries for hardware, operating systems and networks. Goldsmith and her colleagues in the Stanford Wireless Systems Laboratory are working in all these areas.

Goldsmith attended the University of California-Berkeley, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1986, her master's degree in 1991 and her doctorate in 1994. She served as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Caltech before coming to Stanford in 1999. Goldsmith is a recipient of a 1999-2000 Frederick E. Terman Fellowship, and she has received awards from the Okawa Foundation for Information and Telecommunications, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.


By Dawn Levy

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