PCASTRD-DOST: SCIENCE AGENCY HONORS GROUND-BREAKING R&D PROJECTS

VIA THE INTERNET, December 29, 2005
 [The article highlights on the three winners of the biennial Search for Outstanding R&D, Thesis and Dissertation Awards organized by Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development-Department of Science and Technology (PCASTRD-DOST), from JANET POLITA, RIUD-PCASTRD; For more information, please contact: DR. VIRGINIA G. NOVENARIO-ENRIQUEZ Tel. Nos. 837-2071 loc. 2102-2109]

A state-of-the art device applicable to the semiconductor industry, particularly optical and wireless communication, bagged the major prize in the biennial Outstanding R&D, Thesis and Dissertation Awards organized by the Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The Awards are PCASTRD's way of recognizing and rewarding excellent R&D performance and significant research outputs in the advanced science and technology.

At the awarding program held recently, DOST Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro lauded the winners for their innovative work and urged researchers to persevere to bring potential products and projects out of the R&D environment and into the market. "The only way we could foster innovation, create new jobs and build a stronger economy for our country is by investing in high-technology R&D and collaborating with industries to support R&D outputs," she said.

DOST Undersecretary for R&D, Dr. Rogelio Panlasigui, challenged researchers to work towards gaining greater international visibility for their R&D work to build confidence in our country's capacity to do world-class R&D. He added that R&D outputs should further promote quality of life for Filipinos.

On the other hand, PCASTRD Executive Director Reynaldo V. Ebora lauded the researchers' ability to produce quality outputs, at par with their foreign counterparts, in spite of funding limitations.

Outstanding R&D projects Besting 14 entries that joined the R&D competition and winning P200,000.00 cash prize was the project titled "Device Fabrication of GaAs-based Semiconductors for Optoelectronics and RF Applications, " developed by the team of Dr. Arnel Salvador from the National Institute of Physics (NIP) of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. The project fabricated, characterized, and investigated Gallium-Arsenide (GaAs)-based electronic devices suited for optoelectronic and radio frequency (RF) applications.

GaAs is a compound semiconductor made up of Gallium and Arsenic. It has the ability to conduct electricity faster than silicon, discharge light, and produce less noise, making it a good material for use in high-speed communications devices such as cell phones and in fiber optic networks. It can also amplify weak-signals.

Dr. Salvador and his team grew the material through molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), which finds use in creating new structures and crystal materials such as semiconductor laser diodes, light emitting diodes, photodetectors, and quantum dots. Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) is an ultrahigh vacuum technique for growth of monocrystalline layers. It allows the growth of layers and layer systems of high purity and crystalline quality.

According to Dr. Salvador, they pursued the project in order to strengthen the country's capability in developing semiconductor devices in view of the rising global demand for faster and broader information dissemination. He added that the project is the first successful attempt to design, fabricate, and characterize such semiconductor material in the country.

Winning second place and P150,000.00 cash prize is the project that uses a hydrogen Raman shifter to produce novel applications in imaging and holography. A Raman shifter is a device that changes the frequency of light by inducing the Raman effect (the change in wavelength of light scattered while passing through a transparent medium) on a beam passing through it.

The project, led by Dr. Caesar Saloma of NIP-UP Diliman, exploited the many applications of hydrogen Raman shifter (HRS). First, with HRS, they were able to develop an auxiliary system to enhance the capability of their existing laser facility. Through the HRS, their facility which operates only at single wavelength, can now efficiently convert single wavelength beam from laser to a wide range of emission lines extending from near-infrared-to the ultraviolet.

Further, the project, through HRS, was able to produce three novel applications in imaging and holography. First, it was able to demonstrate a two-color two-photon (2C2P) fluorescence with a single light source, which is an important development in a 2C2P microscope. This development offers a great utility for dynamic imaging of living cells in thick specimens such as intact tissues, study of DNA sequencing and chromosomes analysis and the like.

Second, it demonstrated the two-color two-photon optical beam-induced current (OBIC) with Raman shifter. This progress in OBIC is considered an important technique in the inspection and analysis of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices. Lastly, it exhibited pulsed multicolor digital holography, which is essential in producing high-resolution and high-sensitive image recording and reconstruction.

Taking the third place with P100,000.00 prize is the project that developed and applied reproductive biotechniques for domestic animals in the country. Biotechniques include in-vitro fertilization, superovulation, embryo transfer, and cryopreservation of embryos. Through the adoption of the biotechniques, the researchers from the Philippine Carabao Center, Nueva Ecija, were able to produce the first test-tube buffaloes and the first frozen-thawed goat embryos. The aforementioned techniques could also help improve the quality of animal production, which ensures animals that are healthy and free from physical abnormalities.

PCASTRD's Outstanding R&D Awards, which started in 1994, is a biennial search that aims to encourage researchers to pursue innovative works in advanced S&T areas namely biotechnology, information and communications technology, electronic technology, photonics, space technology applications and materials science. (by: Janet Rosalie Anne H. Polita)

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