Ph.D. alumnus Yi-Chia Tsai to represent UIUC in nationwide dissertation competition

7/29/2022 9:20:00 AM Jenny Applequist for HMNTL

The Ph.D. dissertation of Yi-Chia Tsai, who graduated from UIUC’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in May 2022, has been selected to represent the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the 2022 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award national competition.

Yi-Chia Tsai
Yi-Chia Tsai

The awards are jointly sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. According to the award’s website, they are “made each year to individuals who, in the opinion of the award committee, have completed dissertations representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline.”

Tsai’s dissertation is entitled “Theoretical Exploration of Efficiency Droop Mechanisms in III-Nitride Visible Light-Emitting Diodes.” It sheds light on the mechanisms that cause a long-studied phenomenon called “efficiency droop” that has made it impossible to make green LEDs that work efficiently under high-power operation. The efficiency droop has been a persistent barrier to the fulfillment of LEDs’ promise as an energy-efficient lighting solution, and Tsai’s graduate work took great strides towards overcoming that barrier, paving the way toward low-droop and droop-free LEDs.

Just two CGS/ProQuest awards are presented each year. In odd-numbered years, there is one winner across the areas of Biology & Life Sciences, and one in Humanities & Fine Arts. In even-numbered years, there is one recipient in Social Sciences, and one in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, & Engineering.

Each qualifying university can nominate just two dissertations per year, and Tsai’s dissertation was selected as UIUC’s 2022 submission for Mathematics, Physical Sciences, & Engineering, meaning it was judged the strongest UIUC candidate across those areas from the last two years.

According to Ken Vickery, Director of Fellowships in UIUC’s Graduate College, “The selection panel was extremely impressed with the quality and potential impact of [Tsai’s] research.”

Tsai’s graduate work was overseen by Can Bayram, who is an associate professor in ECE, and Jean-Pierre Leburton, who is the Gregory Stillman Professor of ECE.

Since graduating, Tsai has worked as a senior software algorithm engineer at ASML, Inc., in San Jose, California. He’s currently designing and developing new algorithms for next-generation optical proximity correction tools, which will be critical for semiconductor chip manufacturing.

For more information on Tsai’s dissertation research, see a recent HMNTL news story covering some of his related papers.