Philippe Fauchet, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Rochester, was recently elected a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the Optical Society of America (OSA). The APS, which has 40,000 members, elects about one-half of 1 percent of its membership as fellows, while the OSA limits fellowship to 10 percent of its 11,400 members.
Fauchet's dual fellowship reflects his ability to touch on many disciplines with his varied research interests. As a result, Fauchet is also professor of optics, senior scientist at the University's Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and director of the Center for Future Health.
His most recent efforts have helped to make the Center for Future Health a reality at the University. The center's goal of creating low-cost devices for personal health care and disease prevention has been the subject of considerable interest around the world. Such visionary devices include a melanoma monitor, an unobtrusive device used in one's home to detect changes in suspicious moles, and memory glasses that prompt and instruct a person suffering from memory loss by identifying people and objects, such as the contents of a shopping list. Approximately 20 projects involving engineers and physicians are currently in progress at the University, the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Toronto. Fauchet developed the concept for the Center for Future Health with dermatologist Alice Pentland.
Fauchet's research has also contributed significantly to optoelectronics, a branch of research that integrates electronics and light. In the early 1990s, his research team successfully combined porous silicon and a conventional silicon transistor to fabricate one of the first optoelectronic chips. The team had to find a way around the constraints of the novel material because, while porous silicon detects and emits light, it is delicate and easily crushed in production. Although this drawback had curtailed many research efforts, Fauchet's team persisted and discovered a way to chemically strengthen the material. Research in this area continues today with the promise of faster, thinner computers that deliver information more quickly than today's devices and smart sensors.
Fauchet's passion for research and for finding applications for new technology has earned him a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, and an IBM Faculty Development Award. He also received the Guibal-Devillez Prize from the Faculté Polytechnique in Belgium for his published work on porous silicon. Fauchet graduated from the Faculté Polytechnique, Brown University, and Stanford University. He joined the University in 1990, after teaching at Stanford University and Princeton University.