Previous Dresselhaus Lectures

The Dresselhaus Lecture series is named in honor of Mildred "Millie" Dresselhaus, a beloved MIT professor whose research helped unlock the mysteries of carbon, the most fundamental of organic elements—earning her the nickname “queen of carbon science.” This annual event recognizes a significant figure in science and engineering from anywhere in the world whose leadership and impact echo Millie’s life, accomplishments, and values.

2021 Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture:
Jelena Vučković, Stanford University

Jelena Vučković, the Jensen Huang Professor in Global Leadership in the School of Engineering; Professor of Electrical Engineering, and by courtesy of Applied Physics, at Stanford University, delivered the 2021 Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture on November 15, 2021.

Jelena Vučković

Jelena Vučković
Inverse designed photonics: Are computers better than humans in designing photonics?

Photonics are traditionally designed by combining building blocks from a limited library of known designs, and by manual tuning and tweaking of few parameters. Unfortunately, the resulting photonic circuits are very sensitive to errors in manufacturing and to environmental instabilities, bulky, and often inefficient.

In this lecture, Vučković shows how a departure from this old fashioned approach can lead to optimal photonic designs that are much better than state-of-the-art on many metrics (smaller, more efficient, more robust). This departure is enabled by development of an inverse design approach and computer software that designs photonic systems by searching through all possible combinations of realistic parameters and geometries.

>>Read a recap of Jelena Vučković's lecture on MIT News.
>>Watch the video on MIT.nano's YouTube Channel.

About Jelena Vučković

Jelena Vučković is the Jensen Huang Professor in Global Leadership in the School of Engineering, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and by courtesy of Applied Physics at Stanford, where she leads the Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics Lab. She is also the chair of the electrical engineering department at Stanford. She was the inaugural director of Q-FARM, the Stanford-SLAC Quantum Science and Engineering Initiative, and is affiliated with Ginzton Lab, PULSE Institute, SIMES Institute, Stanford Photonics Research Center (SPRC), SystemX Alliance, Bio-X, and Wu-Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford.


2020 Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture:
Evelyn Hu, Harvard University

Evelyn Hu, the Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, delivered the 2020 Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture on November 16, 2020.

Evelyn Hu

Evelyn Hu
Transforming Defects into Opportunities: Leveraging the Nanoscale

In tribute to Millie’s contributions, this talk provides another narrative of how materials defects and insights at the nanoscale can be developed into transformative scientific opportunities. There has been recent excitement about the performance of defects (such as vacancies, or missing atoms) in crystalline semiconductors, where the defect, also termed qubit,  can manifest optical emission at a variety of wavelengths, distinctively coupled to long spin coherence times. In particular, when defects such as Silicon Vacancies in 4H SiC are integrated within nanoscale optical cavities, there is the possibility for remarkable, controlled output of light from the defect. Moreover, the integrated defect-cavity system can serve as a “nanoscope” into the material, allowing us to learn about the interactions with surrounding defects, ultimately providing broader insights into longer-term quantum coherence.

>>Read a recap of Evelyn Hu's lecture on MIT News.
>>Watch the video on MIT.nano's YouTube channel.

About Evelyn Hu

Evelyn Hu is the Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard. She is presently a Co-Director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative. Prior to Harvard, she was a faculty member at UCSB, in the Departments of Materials, and of Electrical and Computer Engineering. While at UCSB, she also served as the founding Scientific co-Director of the California NanoSystems Institute, a joint initiative between UCSB and UCLA. Before joining UCSB, she worked at Bell Labs in both Holmdel and Murray Hill.

Hu is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Sinica of Taiwan. She is a recipient of an NSF Distinguished Teaching Fellow award, an AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award, the 2019 SES Eringen Medal, and the 2020 IEEE Grove Award. She holds honorary Doctorates from ETH Zurich, the University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the University of Notre Dame.


2019 Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture:
Paul McEuen, Cornell University

Paul McEuen, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science at Cornell University and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science, delivered the inaugural Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture at MIT on Nov. 13, 2019.

Paul McEuen

Paul McEuen
Cell-sized Sensors and Robots

"Fifty years ago, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman claimed that a revolution was underway where information, computers, and machines would be shrunk to incredibly small dimensions. History has proven him mostly right: integrated circuits and Moore’s law have given us cell phones, the internet, and artificial intelligence. But the third leg of Feynman’s dream, the miniaturization of machines, is only just getting underway. Can we create functional, intelligent machines at the scale that biology does? The size of, say, a single-celled organism like a Paramecium? And if so, how? In this talk, I’ll take a look at some of the approaches being explored, focusing on a Cornell effort to combine microelectronics, optics, paper arts, and 2D materials to create a new generation of cell-sized smart, active sensors and microbots that are powered and communicate by light."

>> Read a recap of Professor McEuen's lecture on MIT News
>> Watch the video of Paul McEuen's lecture

About Paul McEuen

Paul McEuen is the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science at Cornell University and Director of the Kavli institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science. His research explores the electronic, optical, and mechanical properties of nanoscale materials; he is currently excited about using these materials to construct functional micron-scale machines. He is also a novelist, and his scientific thriller SPIRAL won the debut novel of the year from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.