Sandia LabNews

Three researchers named Sandia Fellows


SANDIA researchers, left to right, Jerry Simmons (1120), Ed Cole (1755), and John Rowe (5550) are Sandia’s newest Fellows, joining six others who have earned the distinction since it was instituted in 1986. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Labs recognizes career accomplishments, reputations of Ed Cole, Jerry Simmons, John Rowe

Sandia researchers Jerry Simmons (1120), Ed Cole (1755), and John Rowe (5550) have been named Sandia Fellows. 

That status — stellar at Sandia and nearly as rare as hen’s teeth — is reserved for those who are nationally or internationally recognized pioneers in their fields. It is considered a promotion to the highest level of Research and Development staff, equivalent to the level of management immediately below Sandia’s vice presidents, says Julia Phillips, vice president and Sandia chief technology officer (7000).

There have been only six previous Fellows in Sandia’s history. Of them, Jeff Brinker (1002) alone is still active at Sandia.

“The three new Fellows have histories of sustained and equally distinguished accomplishments in their fields,” said Sandia President and Laboratories Director Paul Hommert in announcing the appointments.

Jerry made notable discoveries in the physics that examines electron tunneling — how an electron can turn up where by rights it shouldn’t be. He is well-known for linking fundamental scientific understanding with engineering impact, and has demonstrated leadership in helping to advance solid-state lighting, terahertz sources, and detectors and quantum qubits.

Says Jerry, “I’m honored to be recognized and thank colleagues I’ve worked with over the years. Almost everything I’ve done has been a team effort with very talented people. As a Fellow I hope to spend more time working with others to explore new ideas, and then build new teams to bring those ideas closer to reality.”

Ed is internationally recognized for his widely used work in failure analysis and reliability physics. His pioneering work and leadership in applying failure analysis techniques to the most challenging national security problems has led to methods for finding almost entirely hidden defects.

 Says Ed, “I am honored and excited by the Sandia Fellow appointment and the opportunity it affords to work with staff, leadership, and external partners in Sandia’s national security mission.”

John’s expertise and technical leadership in space-based multispectral remote sensing systems have helped shape US capabilities and are widely recognized in national security fields. His deep technical understanding of national sensing and detection systems makes him a highly regarded and sought-after expert in the Department of Defense and intelligence communities.

Says John, “It is a huge honor to be appointed a Sandia Fellow and I look forward to continued collaboration with my colleagues and Labs leadership as we work to address current and future challenges to our national security.”

Fellows are chosen from fields that coincide with areas in which Sandia intends to maintain or grow its presence. Fellows are expected to bring the very best science and engineering to Sandia and the US, shape the future of Sandia’s science and engineering enterprise, expand the breadth of their influence, mentor others, and maintain extensive professional networks.

Sandia’s last promotions to Fellow took place in 2002 and 2003, when Gordon Osbourn (retired), Jeff Brinker, and Jim Gosler (retired) were selected for their pioneering work in strained layer superlattices; sol-gel processing of ceramics and self-assembling nanostructures; and information security, respectively.

The first Fellow appointment was made in 1986.

Jeff Brinker says, “We’re planning a meeting in a few weeks to see what we could do together for the improvement of the Labs. Together, the Fellows could work to identify new opportunities and lead initiatives to further increase the quality, visibility, and impact of Sandia science and technology.”

John Rowe

John Rowe, lead Senior Engineer in Sandia’s Space Mission Program, hired on to Sandia 35 years ago as a technician in a materials testing group. He was grateful for support offered by Sandia management that allowed him to complete his master’s degree in computer science from the University of New Mexico. From there, he transferred to the Satellite Systems area and has worked in space- and ground-based sensing systems for most of the last 30 years.

 “These fields are critically important for our national security interests, environmental monitoring, and possibly for analyzing climate changes,” he says.

Of particular importance to John has been development of methods to exploit the growing flood of data provided by satellites, and concomitantly, help design at a high level the characteristics of the sensing systems.

John and his colleagues have pioneered the use of space-based multispectral systems that provide information by analyzing an area or target of interest through use of multiple frequencies of light. More recently, he has focused on persistent sensing systems — “devices that sense what you want, where you want, whenever you want,” is all he says on that subject.

For the last several years, John has spent a good part of his time directing or contributing to major studies for space-based systems for the Labs and government customers.  He has also supported multiagency studies that “are shaping the future of our space sensing capabilities,” he says.

The gravitas of being selected a Fellow, he says, “is a recognition by the institution of the importance of this area of work and of our intent to increase our engagement in this area.” He believes it will provide him opportunities to more broadly engage with other elements of Sandia, including senior technical personnel and Labs leadership, to better position the Labs to face national security challenges.

“We could do a better job by interacting with other programs and capabilities across the Labs, such as with cyber, integrated military systems, and others. There are potential ties with all these communities that are not being leveraged to their fullest. My new position may offer opportunities to help knit these together.”

Jerry Simmons

When Jerry Simmons was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2002, he was cited for experiments on the physics of low-temperature electron tunneling in never-before-seen double quantum-well transistor structures. But the Princeton electrical engineering PhD (whose adviser was 1998 physics Nobel laureate Dan Tsui) found himself as fascinated in creating his research program as in the work itself. “What was exciting was building the team that could grow quantum layers of semiconductor materials with very high purity and atomic layer precision, process them into nanoelectronic devices, and perform delicate electrical measurements at low temperatures,” he says. “I hired a lot of people that work in that area; now Sandia has a world-leading program in quantum electronics.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science cited Jerry for his research and leadership in semiconductor lighting (AAAS Fellow, 2008). But again, he says, “Solid state lighting at Sandia has been a real team effort. My contribution was in having a vision.” When his solid-state-lighting team was selected for an Laboratory Directed Research and Development Grand Challenge, he set about helping to raise the technology’s visibility.

“When we started, solid state lighting was less efficient than incandescent bulbs. We advised Senator Bingaman’s office of potentially enormous energy savings; he ended up authoring a national Next-Generation Lighting Initiative, which started a DOE research program on solid state lighting, which funded research and product development throughout the US.”

The national push added to understanding of III-V LEDs [light-emitting devices that use compounds involving gallium and nitrogen rather than silicon], enabled more accurately controlled crystal growth, and showed industry how to save on costs. “Now LED lights are on the market,” Jerry says.

As a Fellow, Jerry says he will look for science and technology ideas that meet several pressing needs of Sandia mission areas. He’s now particularly interested in wide band gap power electronics, a smart technology that more efficiently converts electricity from one voltage to another. Advances in the technology would mean that any device using electricity would need less cooling, as well as lower weight, volume, complexity, and therefore expense. Such work could aid Army front lines, Navy magnetic catapult launches, airplanes, electric cars, telephones, televisions, power company electrical transformers, photovoltaics, and more.

“A Fellow has more freedom and time to build new technology programs,” says Jerry. “What gets me excited is coming up with new ideas and turning them into reality.”

Ed Cole

Ed Cole takes pride that his three daughters — now in their 20s — love going for week-long vacations each year with their mom and dad to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That’s the state in which Ed achieved his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in solid-state physics. In his doctoral work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he used non-destructive, low-energy electron beam techniques to analyze integrated circuits. This made it only a small jump for him to join Sandia’s Failure Analysis Department in 1987, where he has improved and devised new nondestructive investigatory techniques to determine the presence and locality of nanometer-sized circuit failures in chips with hundreds of millions of circuits, trivializing any comparison to finding needles in haystacks.

Ramifications of these investigations impact today’s technologies and change future products, he says, in both the military and commercial world. His work has helped determine reliability risks for components that haven’t failed yet, and found “soft” defects of components that limit the performance of devices that otherwise would operate better.  Among his tools are electron and laser beam probes, the latter for optical and heating purposes. In one technique, he originated serially heating “floors” of vertically connected layers 0.2 microns thick with a tight beam to see if expanding the interconnects improves their performance; the result locates the flaw.

Two teams led by Ed have won R&D 100 awards in failure analysis. He has served on the executive and management committees of a variety of conferences and on the editorial board of several journals.

He has been a major contributor to the development of scanning electron and optical and microscopy techniques as well as light emission and atomic force microscopy applications. His 11 patents have been cited by more than 60 other patents and have generated approximately $1.6 million in royalties for Sandia.

Despite security limitations over much of the last decade — “I straddle two worlds,” he says — he is the author of more than 25 journal articles and conference presentations in the area of integrated circuit reliability and failure analysis that collectively have been cited nearly 150 times in the international technical literature, and have won numerous “best” and “outstanding” paper awards. In November 2012 at the International Symposium on Testing and Failure Analysis, about 20 percent of the conference was based on techniques developed at Sandia and its industry partners to localize defects in integrated circuits.

As a Fellow, Ed expects to stay hands-on “but not to the extent I’ve been doing,” he says.  “As Fellow, your impact and sphere of influence are expected to grow and I will be pursuing this. If someone told me an IBM Fellow was coming, I would hold an expectation about that person’s knowledge and influence. I expect the same to be true of the Sandia Fellows.”