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    SMART Scholar and Mentor at the Forefront of Science Exploration

    SMART Scholar and Mentor at the Forefront of Science Exploration

    Courtesy Photo | Nanotechnology, laser beams, and drones – just a few of the innovative projects this...... read more read more



    Story by Catherine White 

    SMART Scholarship Program

    Nanotechnology, laser beams, and drones – just a few of the innovative projects this year’s Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholar and Mentor of the Year Award winners, for fiscal year 2023, are working on to reshape scientific exploration and advancement. Among these distinguished individuals, Carlos Torres Jr., Ph.D., and his mentor, James Adleman, Ph.D., stand out as prime examples of excellence.

    Torres’ SMART journey began over 15 years ago, when he started his SMART-sponsored master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. At the time, his research focused on the understanding and characterization of electrical transport and flicker noise in graphene. This research is essential for the development and optimization of graphene-based electronic devices, which can be used in things like telecommunications, quantum computing, and solar cells.

    Graphene first exploded into the mainstream in 2004, where it was touted as a miracle material with incredible electronic conductive properties. The buzz may have died down, but graphene’s applications have not, and neither has Torres’ dedication to advancing its research.

    After his master’s degree, Torres went on to continue his SMART-sponsored doctoral pursuit, focusing on large-scale chemical vapor deposited two-dimensional (2D) material-based hot electron transistors and the optoelectronic properties of graphene and other 2D semiconductors. This research explores how to make in bulk different 2D semiconductors that can significantly improve speed, efficiency, and functionality for various electronic applications, including next-generation electronics, optical communication, and quantum computing. Adleman’s steadfast support for Torres throughout his doctoral studies and beyond, fostered a vibrant exchange of ideas between them, resulting in the fruition of several funded projects.

    After graduation, Torres began his service commitment, or Phase 2 of the SMART Program, working as a researcher and electronics engineer in the Advanced Photonics Technologies Branch at the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific to develop novel 2D and quantum material-based device concepts. Here he assumed multiple leadership roles in the development of this critical technology, with one project pioneering an innovative way to emit, detect, and continuously change the color or wavelength of light. This innovation spans the electromagnetic spectrum from visible to infrared, rendering it both visible and invisible to the human eye – a key technology for the warfighter.

    In his transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3, when scholars complete their service commitment, he chose to continue his work as a Department of Defense civilian. Torres led a research project exploring quantum-engineered nanodevices exploiting twistronics for electromagnetic maneuver warfare and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Twistronics is a relatively new field that explores how electrical properties of 2D materials can be altered by twisting layers of the material around each other. The material’s properties can change depending on the degree to which the layers are twisted. Potential applications of twistronics research include lossless transmission of electricity and development of highly sensitive sensors, among others.

    His technical acumen continues with several other quantum and nanotechnology projects at NIWC Pacific that have positioned Torres as a key subject matter expert in 2D and quantum materials, culminating in his establishment of the Quantum-Engineered Nano Devices Laboratory (QENDL). Torres envisioned and constructed the laboratory from the ground up. “Making this vision into a reality, with consistent support from NIWC Pacific, allows me to feel as if I am a superhero working tirelessly on several missions in my own ‘batcave,’” said Torres. QENDL serves as NIWC Pacific’s state-of-the-art quantum nanophotonics laboratory and quantum electronics device characterization facility, accelerating the DoD to the forefront of advancements in quantum and nanotechnology.

    Currently, Torres works alongside his mentor, Adleman, lead engineer in the Radio-Frequency Photonics group at the Advanced Photonic Technologies Branch at NIWC Pacific. Since they met during one of Torres’ summer internships, Adleman has supported and mentored Torres throughout the entirety of his SMART career. Now friends and colleagues, together they have published several papers and patents in 2D quantum material optoelectronics research. Torres credited Adleman's "technical acumen, humble attitude, patience and friendship," as sources of inspiration, motivating him to persevere.


    Date Taken: 05.30.2024
    Date Posted: 05.30.2024 13:55
    Story ID: 472599

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