Michael’s career has spanned the space between fundamental research and commercialization since his time as an undergraduate in physics at Caltech. In 1999, he and his collaborator, Tom Baehr-Jones, developed a design tool for the accurate simulation of silicon photonic components as part of their research and spun the effort off as a company called Simulant. He co-founded his second company in silicon photonics, Luxtera, during his senior year. Luxtera was acquired in 2018 by Cisco Systems for $660,000,000. In the years since, his work has been pivotal in the creation of a number of companies, in areas from photonic biosensing to optical computing.
After returning to Caltech for his post-graduate degrees, he completed his MS and Ph.D. in applied physics at Caltech in a total of three years. On graduation, he won the Demetriades-Tsafka Prize for the best thesis by a graduating Ph.D. student in the field of nanotechnology at Caltech.
Since that time, Michael has held faculty positions and run research groups at the University of Washington, University of Delaware, and the National University of Singapore, and has held appointments in various departments including Electrical Engineering, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, and Materials Science. He currently holds a visiting appointment at Columbia University.
Michael was the Director of the OpSIS foundry-access service, which built a community of hundreds of silicon photonic designers around the world. OpSIS was the first organization to offer silicon photonic multi-project wafer runs including a library of passive devices, high-speed modulators and detectors, and an integrated PDK.
Michael has won a number of awards for his work, including an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a U.S. Air Force Young Investigator Program Award, a Singapore National Research Foundation Fellowship, and a Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, which is the highest honor granted by the US government to young scientists.
He has published numerous papers and patents, and his work has been cited over 9,000 times (Google Scholar) in the scientific literature. His book, “Silicon Photonics Design: From Devices to Systems,” was published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press and has been widely adopted as a textbook in the field; it has an average rating of 4.4 stars on Amazon and is listed as the top book in silicon photonics.