Duarte de Sousa awarded IEEE EDS PhD Student Fellowship

Doctoral candidate Duarte J P de Sousa is the recipient of the coveted IEEE Electron Devices Society PhD Student Fellowship award. The fellowship recognizes de Sousa’s excellence in his field of research (electron devices), as well as his academic accomplishments. A highly competitive award, only three fellowships are typically awarded each year, with the intent of at least one each being given to eligible candidates from the Americas, Europe-Middle East-Africa region, and Asia-Pacific region. de Sousa is working on his research under the guidance of professor Tony Low.

de Sousa’s fascination with physics and its applications meant meeting researchers with similar interests. A chance meeting with professor Tony Low (whose work he has found inspirational and has closely followed) led to an invitation to join the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2018, de Sousa joined the University as a doctoral student. In ECE, he has drawn on his previous academic and research interests and extended them to the exploration of energy efficient spintronics devices in novel quantum materials. The work could open doors for novel applications in neuromorphic computing and advanced in-memory computing.

Professor Tony Low is thrilled about the recognition de Sousa's work is getting: "We thank the EDS committee for recognizing Duarte’s academic and research achievements, and this award would encourage his continual exploration of the next generation energy efficient electron devices.”

de Sousa’s research in particular focuses on spin transport modeling of devices comprising  exotic topological quantum materials, as well as on the impact of spin-orbit torques on the  magnetization dynamics of ferromagnetic thin films. His theoretical discovery of gigantic tunneling magnetoresistance and spin transfer torque in magnetic Weyl semimetals (MWS) is one of his most significant research contributions to the area. By exploiting the unique property of magnetization-chirality locking in MWS, he has shown that tunneling magnetoresistance in an MWS-oxide-MWS structure can far exceed those reported in state-of-the-art Fe-MgO-Fe devices. In addition, the surface states in MWS can also lead to an anomalously large and energy efficient spin transfer torque. These results are the outcome of work done in collaboration with physicist Paul Haney of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and professor Jian-Ping Wang (ECE and Director of the Spintronic Materials for Advanced Information Technologies Center). They shed light on the new physics of multilayered spintronic devices consisting of recently discovered topological quantum materials. The studies, with their focus on finding a new energy efficient magnetic tunnel junction device for advanced in-memory computing, are supported by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). 

de Sousa is keen on continuing his engagement with academia and research. He hopes to stay engaged with both his interests by teaching in a research institution.  

The IEEE EDS fellowship award will be awarded at the International Electron Devices Meeting conference in December. Fellowship winners will be awarded $5000, and the EDS newsletter will carry articles covering the fellows and their research over the course of the upcoming year.