Ricketts receives NSF CAREER Award

July 18, 2013

Dr. David Ricketts 
Dr. David Ricketts

Dr. David Ricketts, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, known as the NSF CAREER Award, is one of the highest honors given by NSF to young faculty in science and engineering.

The award will provide $326,316 over three years to support Rickett's project, "Spin-Torque Oscillator Arrays." The research is supported by NSF's Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems.

This research investigates magnetostatic spin-wave generation, propagation, interaction and absorption in multi-layer Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) and Tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) spin-torque oscillator (STO) arrays. With the recent demonstration of spin-torque transfer and self-sustained oscillators, a new class of oscillator has emerged with extreme tunability and potential for excellent RF performance. Recent results have shown, however, that the potential of these new devices is limited by the large phase noise of individual devices due to the small amount of energy stored in a single device. A potential solution is the phase-locking of many STOs in a large array. This research focuses on the fundamental science of STO-STO interaction in multi-device arrays with the goal of laying the foundation for controllable, scalable arrays of STO oscillators. Specifically, this research proposal focuses on three tasks investigating fundamental science of spin-wave STO interaction: 1) Study of magnetostatic surface wave dynamics on multi-layer STO stacks, 2) Study of magnetostatic surface wave stimulated emission by an STO, and 3) Spatial dependence and scaling of STO-STO interactions.

These research programs will also include an integrated effort for the development of new interdisciplinary courses that focus on the fundamentals of device physics and their applications, the creation of virtual laboratories that enable students around the globe to explore these fundamental concepts, and the introduction of elementary and high school students in local communities to the exciting field of magnetics and electronics. Furthermore, an integrated research and educational program will provide direct access for students, in local communities and around the globe, to investigate fundamentals of nanoscale devices through web-deployed virtual laboratories and educational tutorials. The educational efforts will focus on developing experiential learning activities for students via virtual labs to enable students to learn concepts through experimentation and exploration, complimenting traditional lecture based educational methods.

Ricketts received his PhD in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Harvard University in 2006. He joined the NC State faculty in 2012.