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Donnelly Honored for Decades of Plasma Research
Toby Weber

Vincent Donnelly, professor in the Cullen College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been honored by the American Vacuum Society for his 30-plus years of plasma research.

The AVS named Donnelly the 2011 recipient of the John A. Thorton Memorial Award and Lecture. One of AVS’ highest honors, the award is given every two years to an individual responsible for “outstanding research or technological innovation in areas of interest to AVS.”

Donnelly began his plasma-related research in 1979 at Bell Labs, which he joined shortly after completing his postdoctoral work. His focus has primarily been on plasma etching, in which positive ions bombard the surface of a silicon wafer, allowing nanometer scale features to be formed. This technique is used today to create integrated circuits and other items with features as small as 22 nanometers.

“My research covers plasma surface interactions and plasma diagnostics techniques such as looking at optical emissions coming out of the plasmas. All of it relates back to understanding issues surrounding plasma etching. By getting a better understanding of these plasmas you can hopefully control existing processes better and develop new ones,” he said.

Notably, plasma etching was developed only a few years before Donnelly began his research in the field. He has been an active member of the plasma etching research community since its earliest days, and served two years as chairman of the AVS’ Plasma Science and Technology Division.

Donnelly will receive the honor in November during the AVS’s 58th International Symposium and Exhibition in Nashville, Tenn.

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