Doolittle Named as Joseph M. Pettit Professor

Atlanta, GA
Alan Doolittle

Alan Doolittle

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Alan Doolittle has been appointed as the Joseph M. Pettit Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), effective on September 1, 2019.

Doolittle is a proud, two-time Georgia Tech alumnus, earning his B.E.E. degree with highest honors in 1989 and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1996. After graduating with his doctorate, he worked as a research engineer in ECE for five years and then joined the School's academic faculty in 2001. Doolittle leads the Advanced Semiconductor Technology Facility, which has an estimated equipment capitalization of $6 million. 

Doolittle advises eight Ph.D. students who work in the areas of microelectronic fabrication, materials growth, characterization, neuromorphic computational devices, power, high frequency transistors, and optoelectronic devices. To date, he has graduated 23 Ph.D. students, 12 master’s students, and 45 undergraduate students.      

Doolittle pioneered the area of hyper doping of wide bandgap semiconductors, which has enabled the creation of new devices that use quantum mechanical processes to reduce power losses and to allow new ways of interconnecting advanced power and optoelectronic devices. He also pioneered the synthesis of lithium-metal-oxides, which have recently gained traction for very low power neuromorphic devices; these devices emulate human brain functionality.

From 2003-2009, Doolittle was the first assistant professor at Tech to win a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) award, and in fact, he was the lead PI on two MURI programs during this period. These initiatives focused on the development of next generation epitaxial systems for three-dimensional epitaxy. Doolittle and his team developed and exploited epitaxial multifunctional oxides, a newly developing family of materials that seek to interconnect at the atomic scale using more than one environmental force in order to facilitate the development of new sensors and actuators. One example of materials that were birthed out of this field are “multiferroics,” where electric fields can tune magnetic moments. The latter MURI was an extension of his NSF CAREER Award from 2004 and led to a new branch of science in multifunctional materials.    

Doolittle currently leads a third MURI program aimed at building nanoscale devices that operate in a way that is similar to various brain functions. His MURI team’s goal is to develop an artificial retina that can learn autonomously and be used for advanced image recognition cameras for national defense and police work. He is a co-PI on a fourth MURI, led by Samuel Graham, the Eugene C. Gwaltney Chair and Professor of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. This program examines the nanoscale engineering of thermal interfaces, so as to improve heat dissipation in power electronics.

Over the years, Doolittle and his colleagues have raised approximately $38 million in research funding from multiple government agencies and industry. He has published 157 refereed journal and conference papers, and he has been issued nine patents. For his hard work and dedication to research, Doolittle was recognized with the Georgia Tech Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award in 2008, the 2002-2003 Student Government Faculty of the Year Award, and the 2005 ECE Outstanding Junior Faculty Member Award.

An excellent classroom teacher, Doolittle earns teaching ratings from undergraduate and graduate students that consistently exceed the School’s norms. He has taught 1,009 undergraduates and 178 graduate students with teaching effectiveness ratings of 4.7 out of 5 in courses such as Microelectronics Circuits, Semiconductor Devices, Renewable Energy Devices, and Introduction to Microelectronic Technology. 

Doolittle is a two-time recipient of the Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Teacher Award, an honor determined by a majority vote of the ECE senior class, in 2003 and 2011. He also received the 2006 Georgia Tech W. Howard Ector Outstanding Teacher Award and the 2005 Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Over the years, he has made his lab available for campus and ECE outreach tours and has advised high school teachers through various programs.           

Doolittle has long been internationally recognized as a leader in his field. He has chaired the two biggest conferences in his area of expertise, the International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors and the International Conference on Nitride Semiconductors, and he has also been chair and program chair for these and other semiconductor conferences several times.

Last revised October 30, 2019