Nelson Tansu Named to 2018 'Highly Cited Researchers' List

Nelson Tansu, the Daniel E. ’39 and Patricia M. Smith Endowed Chair Professor and director of Lehigh’s Center for Photonics and Nanoelectronics (CPN), has been named to the prestigious Clarivate Analytics list of “Highly Cited Researchers” for 2018. The list, published annually, includes researchers ranking in the top 1 percent by citations for field and publication year.

According to the Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) website, the “Highly Cited Researchers” list “identifies the most frequently cited researchers as determined by the extent to which their papers have supported, influenced, inspired and challenged other researchers around the globe. It identifies authors who have consistently won peer approval from international researchers in the form of high citation counts.”

Tansu, who is widely regarded for his groundbreaking contributions to the field of semiconductor optoelectronics materials and devices, appears in the “Cross-Field/Multidisciplinary” category of the list, on which researchers with substantial influence across several fields are included.

Elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2016, Tansu has 17 patents and is the author of more than 134 refereed journal articles and more than 279 conference publications. He conducts research on the physics, materials, devices, and integrated technologies based on wide bandgap and compound semiconductors for sustainability, health sciences, and computing and communications.

Tansu arrived at Lehigh in 2003 as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the department of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) and the Center for Optical Technologies, which would later merge with the Sherman Fairchild Center for Solid-State Studies to form the Center for Photonics and Nanoelectronics (CPN). The CPN, of which Tansu now serves as director, focuses on exploration in photonics, electronics and solid state devices, and has received significant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. Many of the center’s students and faculty have seen great success in their respective fields.

Under Tansu’s direction, the CPN most recently secured funding from the NSF's Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program to create a new High Pressure Spatial chemical vapor deposition (HPS-CVD) reactor. The reactor will enable new capabilities in material synthesis that include growth under extremely high-pressure conditions, growth under extremely high temperatures, the ability to integrate new elements, and the ability to integrate highly dissimilar materials.

“The integration of nanoscale materials and devices into both electronics and optoelectronics opens up new integrated systems with impacts for sustainability, healthcare and quantum technologies. These exciting works from our group are the results of the joint creativities and hard work of our students and collaborators in a supportive and healthy environment, as well as the university’s committed investment in capabilities enabled by the generosity of the Daniel E. Smith ’71 family,” Tansu emphasizes.

Tansu credits the conducive and collaborative culture into which he was hired at Lehigh for his success in working in multiple fields.

“I was hired jointly to the center and the academic department, so that allowed me to really get exposed and work together in cross-field research from day one,” he says. “It helps greatly when we see opportunities that enable creativity and capability, by ourselves, by teaming up, by looking for an excellent partner, or sometimes by simply having an incredible student. Then, they can work together with us and solve those multifaceted problems. I consider this as the ‘secret sauce’ behind the success culture within our center: The cultural expectation is high here. We are trying to drive those expectations and set a high bar.”

Tansu expresses appreciation for the first-class education and mentorship he received under Luke J. Mawst, his Ph.D. advisor, and Dan Botez at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also appreciative of his senior mentors during his early days at Lehigh, Thomas L. Koch and Filbert J. Bartoli, for creating high expectations and a healthy culture that promoted excellence within the center. Koch, the former Smith Endowed Chair Professorship holder and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), is presently the Dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona-Tucson. Bartoli is serving as the Division Director of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems at the NSF.

Tansu says he is honored to be included on the “Highly Cited Researchers” list.

“[The list includes] distinguished individuals who have made significant advances and produced impactful works in a large range of scholarly disciplines, and I consider many of them as my role models who had made contributions significantly beyond my own,” he says. “It is incredibly gratifying even to be considered for such an honor, and it is truly humbling for me to be listed in this highly respected group.”

Many of Tansu’s graduate alumni are now advancing technologies that impact our daily lives as technical leaders in industry, and five of his former graduate students are now tenure-track or tenured professors.

“I love my time working with my students, and it is so rewarding to see the success of many of these alumni in their next careers. My passion for scientific exploration, technology innovations and student mentoring makes the pursuits of discoveries and innovations filled with enthusiasm and sincere joy,” he says.

“In addition, the next phase of growth for the integrated technologies is highly exciting, and will include its marriages with machine learning and quantum engineering for making new types of computers and information systems, as well as other emerging applications.”

For more information and a complete list of the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers, visit

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