Pranav Badami, 2015, Electrical Engineering

Quantum cascade detectors (QCDs) can be used to detect the presence of certain gases in the atmosphere. As a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) intern at Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and Environment (MIRTHE), I worked towards designing a commercially-viable QCD system for the detection low-wavelength light which is absorbed by potent greenhouse gases like methane. Similar QCD systems have been developed in the past using slow growth methods; our system was grown using Metalorganic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD) which is fast and industrially viable. In order to detect low-wavelength light, we opted to build a Gallium Nitride (GaN) system which has a high conduction band offset. Much of the internship was focused on hands-on cleanroom processing, where we fabricated GaN QCDs. After device processing was complete, we moved toward testing and characterization of the QCD. I acquired skills in photolithography, etching, and data analysis techniques; I also learned how to take measurements to determine if a QCD is functioning. I was able to present my initial data at the MIRTHE Summer Workshop. I learned a lot over the summer and gained new skills; I am considering exploring the field further once I look into other concentrations within the Electrical Engineering department.