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Richard Chan, Yee Yee Lwin (MBA 1980), Doris Chan, Western Illinois President Al Goldfarb, Khine Thazin Win (M.S. Manufacturing Engineering 2001) and Saw Khaing Khaing (M.S. ITT 1999; M.S. Computer Science 2000), an instructional technology systems manager at Western, at the 2004 Evening with the President and Mayor Dinner at Western
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WIU Alumnus Part of Breakthrough Transistor Research Team

October 20, 2005

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MACOMB, IL - - Richard Chan, a Western Illinois University alumnus (1998), is a member of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign electrical engineering research laboratory team that has demonstrated their breakthrough laser-emitting transistor at room temperature, which is considered the first step toward high-speed, high-capacity commercial communication uses.

The research, “Room Temperature Continuous Wave Operation of a Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor Laser,” was described in the Sept. 26 issue of Applied Physics Letters. Researchers/authors were Milton Feng, the Holonyak Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Nick Holonyak Jr., a John Bardeen Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics; and postdoctoral research associates Gabriel Walter and Chan, who earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at UIUC in June 2005.

Holonyak, who invented the first practical light-emitting diode, characterized the transistor as the first major change in transistor technology in 50 years.

“Not much has happened fundamentally in a long time, and this is fundamental,” Holonyak said. “The transistor has now become more than a transistor.”

The research path which Chan has been part of included the March 15, 2004 report in Applied Physics Letters of the demonstration of a Quantum-Well light-emitting transistor; the Nov. 15, 2004 report in the same journal of the first laser operation of the light-emitting transistor, which had been chilled to minus 73 degrees Celsius; and the recent announcement of the demonstration at room temperature.

Chan, whose Burmese name is Kyaw Thein Oo, came to Western Illinois in January 1997 and completed his pre-engineering studies in December 1998. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2001 with highest honors and his master degree in 2002 at Illinois. He has received the Gregory Stillman Memorial Fellowship (2004-05), Intel Foundation Ph.D. Fellowship (2003-04), Yunni Pao Fellowship (2002-03), John Bardeen Fellowship (2001-02) and the DOE Energy Research Undergraduate Fellowship (1999). Awards and scholarships he has received include: Gregory Stillman Semiconductor Research Award (2005), John Bardeen Award (2001), Highbarger Engineering Entrepreneurship Award (2003), Fred Eggers FD Engineering Scholarship (2000-01) and a Caterpillar Scholarship (2001). He also holds one patent, has three patents pending, and has published more than a dozen papers.

“Two of Richard’s sisters started their undergraduate studies at WIU too, Doris in pre-engineering and Angel in chemistry and biology,” said Yan Lwin, Western Illinois physics professor, who continues to be a mentor of Richard, Doris and Angel.

Doris earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering at UIUC and has started on her Ph.D., while employed as an engineer with Trace Photonics Inc., in Charleston, IL. Angel, who graduated with highest honors from Western in 2000 with degrees in microbiology and chemistry, is working toward her Ph.D. in the materials sciences engineering department at UIUC. She is scheduled to earn her degree in May 2006.

Richard is continuing his post-doctoral research at UIUC.

“We are all very proud of Richard’s and his sisters’ accomplishments,” Lwin said. “They all are loyal alums who have taken time to return to Western to give seminars and share their research findings with our students and faculty.”

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