Alexander Gumennik, an assistant professor of intelligent systems engineering at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has been honored with a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award by the National Science Foundation.
The CAREER award supports early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Gumennik was recognized for his proposal “Liquid-Phase Processing of Fiber-Based Electronic and Photonic Materials and Devices,” which will advance the precision manufacturing of fiber optics with embedded circuitry.
“The CAREER award is evidence of the recognition by the scientific community of the promise of the basic-science ideas put forward by us,” said Gumennik, who also is the director of the Fibers and Additive Manufacturing Enabled Systems Lab at Luddy. “As an engineering lab, FAMES Lab’s main strength is fiber-device development. The CAREER award recognizes that our material processing approach doesn't just result in working deliverables but also has the potential to generate groundbreaking knowledge that can be revolutionary to the fiber industry.”
The proposed research will test the limitations of molten-phase multimaterial fiber processing in achieving the desired solid-state outcomes, aiming to embed active circuitry in fiber-optics with submicron precision and tight material quality control. The research also will focus on the development of a fabrication strategy that will prepare fiber-optics, the workhorse of digital communication, for the internet of tomorrow. The emerging computing platforms, including quantum computing hardware, operate on an increasingly tight power budget, requiring efficient data transduction. To keep up with those requirements, fiber-optics will likely need to incorporate the data processing capabilities into the fiber itself.
“The award provides a financial cushion that gives me the peace of mind needed to be creative,” Gumennik said. “The CAREER award allows me the freedom to be curiosity-driven in looking for answers to the most puzzling questions in my field, even if this search doesn't result in a functional artifact by the set deadline, which is usually the constraint when developing a device. My next step is to find some bright-minded students who will help us transform the fiber-optics into long-haul Quantum Network Interconnects of tomorrow’s Internet of Things.”
The award, which is worth nearly $650,000, runs through Spring 2027.
“The Luddy School is extremely proud that Alexander’s work is being recognized by the NSF in such a significant way,” said Dennis Groth, interim dean of the Luddy School. “Developing the technologies that will change the way we live our everyday lives is the backbone of our school, and research such as Alexander’s in the realm of fiber-optics is tremendously exciting.”