Coleman Earns Distinguished Alumni Award from Illinois

Dr. James Coleman, director of the Texas Photonics Center housed at UT Dallas, is a 2015 recipient of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award given by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Coleman earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in the 1970s. At that time, semiconductor lasers were only a decade old and impractical. Coleman went on to become a pioneer in the process known as metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD), which is used to create complex semiconductor structures. This method is widely used in the manufacturing of photonics - technologies that combine the physics of light with electricity. This technology helps transmit information that is communicated through cellphones, desktop Internet in homes, medical equipment in hospitals, among other things.

His work has led to wider application and manufacture of semiconductor lasers. His research has refined not only semiconductor devices, but also the materials used to make them.

“I was fortunate to be able to study with and learn from some of the finest engineering professors in the world at Illinois,” Coleman said. “The competitive atmosphere provided by my classmates, many of whom went to change the technical landscape with their contributions, was exhilarating.”

Coleman, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the National Academy of Inventors, came to UT Dallas in 2013 as a professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and holder of the Erik Jonsson Distinguished Chair.

He is currently developing the Texas Photonics Center, a new UT Dallas initiative that is intended to increase the effort on campus in the rapidly growing field of photonic materials, devices and systems.

Every year, the Ilinois ECE Alumni Board of Directors recognizes a few of the department’s alumni. The winners of the awards are chosen because they have made a name for themselves and ECE Illinois “through their remarkable achievement and leadership,” according to their press release.

Coleman was recognized “for research accomplishments in the field of compound semiconductor crystal growth, teaching, and service.”

Coleman holds 10 U.S. patents and has authored more than 425 papers, 13 book chapters and given more than 100 invited presentations.