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Elham Fadaly: The winner of Physics World 2020 Breakthrough of the Year

Inventions 29 Dec 2020
Today's Focus
Elham Fadaly

2020 is the year which has shown what humans are capable of. We are surviving a severe pandemic. Also, we have found out an antidote of the deadly virus. And if you look into other fields, a lot of discoveries and inventions are going on there. Take the example of Elham Fadaly. This young researcher along with her team has achieved a breakthrough in the world of physics and nanotechnology.

She discovered a silicon-based material to make light or photons to transfer communication data. This material has a direct band-gap, which is very much useful for data transmission.

In the easier way we may say, she has discovered a way to make our computers faster.

She is the first Egyptian and Muslim woman to win this award by Physics World Magazine. This magazine is published by the famous ‘Institute of Physics’ or IOP.

It has honored international scientists with the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ every year since 2009. It is awarded to those scientists who have done some groundbreaking inventions in the field of theoretical and experimental researches. Now, Fadaly got her name there.

Brief of Elham Fadaly’s work

Elham Fadaly and her team’s research are based on studying how to emit light from the silicon-based material which is used to form electronic chips, in a way that speeds up the process of transmitting data with the speed of light.

Presently computers transmit data using electrons. Once the scientists find a way to use photons instead of the electrons, the transmission will be in the speed of light. Our machines will be faster and more efficient.

Elham Fadaly and her colleagues Alain Dijkstra and Erik Bakkers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands is currently working in this matter.

Why it is a breakthrough?

To understand her work, we must first understand what photons are. Photons are the most visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. But this is a scientific definition.

For people with a non-scientific background, we can say that there are many atomic models in Physics. Amongst those models, the photon is the one which transmits light.

Normally, Silicon does not have the capacity to emit light. For that, integration of other semiconductor materials is require to emit light or photons.

Though this integration is possible, it is very much difficult and expensive. If someone uses this integrated semiconductors, the price of high-speed computers will be sky-high.

Fadaly and her colleagues have successfully got rid of the obstacle. They have found out a new silicon-based material which can emit infrared light. However, she pointed out that there is more work to be done before it can be used in practical devices.

Her credentials

Fadaly graduated from the American University in Cairo in the year 2013. She studied Bachelor of Science in electronics engineering there. Then she went to pursue a Masters in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology – Nanoelectronics from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. She was a researcher in Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in the university of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.