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Physics & Computer Science
Marek Wartak named Laurier’s University Research Professor for 2005–2006
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Dr. Marek Wartak, a physics and computer science professor, has been named Laurier’s University Research Professor for 2005–2006. The award gives the recipient a $5,000 research grant and releases him or her from teaching and committee work for a year.
Wartak, who trained in solid-state technology and as an electronics engineer before earning a PhD in theoretical physics from the Technical University of Wroclaw (Poland), has been at Laurier since 1990.
Wartak’s career has taken him as a visiting professor to several universities in Europe and North America, including Tampere University of Technology in Finland, the Technical Research Center of Finland, the University of California (Davis and Santa Barbara), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Sussex University in England.
He has also been a researcher with Bell-Northern Research and the National Research Council in Ottawa, a consultant in the private sector and a reviewer for National Research Council grant proposals.
The support to Wartak's research comes from several sources, including NSERC and SHARCNET.
SHARCNET is a consortium of colleges and universities, a "cluster of clusters" of high performance computers, linked by advanced fibre optics. Its unique computational infrastructure combines an active academic-industry partnership, enabling world-class computational research.
His CV lists almost 60 papers published in refereed journals, 15 papers published in refereed conference proceedings, half a dozen technical reports, more than 20 papers read at learned society association conferences.
“I started my research career in passive photonic devices, like wave guides and switches with no amplification,” he says, “and also on high-power plasma.”
On his arrival at Laurier 15 years ago, his research, in collaboration with the National Research Council and Bell-Northern Research, was in the field of semiconductor lasers.
He and his research group recently created the world’s first simulator of quantum well-based semiconductor lasers, based on microscopic principles, which is also able to simulate semiconductor nanostructures.
A quantum well is the region of a laser where the density of electrons is very high, resulting in increased lasing efficiency and reduced heat generation. Accurate modelling of new optical communication devices “plays an important role in their development by shortening the design time for new products,” says Wartak.
“About six years ago, I started working on microscopic models based on the quantum Boltzmann equation.” That equation, formulated by Ludwig Boltzmann (1844–1906), describes the time and spatial variation of the probability distribution and momentum of a single particle in an ideal gas. It is notoriously difficult to integrate and solve, but is of continued interest to theoretical physicists.
“Now I’m writing a book on simulations of semiconductor lasers,” says Wartak. “First you have to decide what system is needed and then you model it. Then you produce a grid to visualize your system, using equations for nodes. The whole process involves simulations. Companies (including aircraft and automobile designers, and weather forecasters) spend a lot of time doing simulations. It’s a huge industry.”
Wartak has many ideas for how to spend the next year.
“I need to finish this book and there are two more in the process,” he says.
He has plans to travel to California and Europe for conferences and to work on ongoing collaborations.
In his spare time, which appears to be in short supply, Wartak enjoys swimming, biking and reading quality world literature.