2011 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement
Engineer-physicist Supriyo Datta at Purdue University has been called "one of the most original thinkers in the field of nanoscale electronics." Datta is widely recognized for his seminal scientific contributions to the theory of quantum transport in nanoscale electronic devices and molecular electronics. Datta's interdisciplinary work on quantum mechanical transport spans chemistry, physics and electrical engineering and has produced: a sound, conceptual understanding of electronic conduction at the molecular scale; the first rigorous quantum simulations of nano- and molecular scale electronic devices; and the first concept for a spintronic switch (the so-called Datta-Das spin transistor) and more recently for a new kind of spin-based logic. His conceptual approach and computational methods are now widely-used by scientists and engineers throughout the world, and his ideas for spintronics focused international attention on the field. Since the invention of the transistor in 1947, progress in electronics has occurred by shrinking the size of the basic device (transistor) and increasing the number of them on an integrated circuit 'chip'. The critical dimensions of a transistor are now less than 50 nanometers (in the horizontal direction) and less than 2 nanometers in the vertical direction. (For reference, the diameter of a DNA double helix is about 2nm). This dramatic decrease in physical dimensions has created the need for new and improved theories to deal with the implications of electronics devices of these dimensions. Through his books, seminars, tutorials, short courses, and full courses at Purdue and online, Supriyo Datta's ideas are shaping the future of electronic devices. Datta received his BTech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois where he was a visiting assistant professor until joining Purdue in 1981. He was also director of the NASA Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing until 2007. He continues to serve as the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering (appointed 1999).