AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Joe C. Campbell, a professor of electrical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor earned in the engineering profession.
Campbell is widely credited for having developed the modern-day detectors of laser light used in telephone and other telecommunication systems to receive voice and data over fiber optics.
“Anytime you make a long distance phone call, you use a laser and our patented detector,” said Campbell, the Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering No. 3 at The University of Texas at Austin.
His election to the National Academy of Engineering recognizes his contributions to the development of high-speed, low-noise avalanche photodiodes. These devices are a type of photodetector, a semiconductor device that absorbs light pulses of laser and converts this optical information into complex electrical signals. The avalanche photodiodes are used in fiber optic long-distance telecommunications where information is transmitted for long distances as pulses of light. At the end of the transmission, the light must be changed back into electrical information. Campbell’s avalanche photodiodes are able to do this at high speeds with very little distortion or noise.
Campbell is using the same concept to enhance computer speed by using optical transmission of data rather than slower electrical signals.