Dr.Sivalingam Sivananthan honored as a White House Champion of Change
Posted on: 30/05/2013 (Thursday)
Dr.Sivalingam Sivananthan, a distinquished old boy of Jaffna Hindu College (1967 -75) and currently professor of physics at the University of Illinois Chicago and founder of Sivananthan Laboratories in Bolingbrook, USA, has been named a White House Champion of Change, an honour that recognizes immigrant entrepreneurs. The Champions honored represent the very best in leadership, entrepreneurship, and public service. Dr.Sivananthan has been given this honor at a ceremony at the White House on May 29th 2013 for his work with a semiconductor material, mercury cadmium telluride or MCT that is at the heart of the night vision technology.
Currently, Dr. Sivananthan is a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor and Director of the Microphysics Laboratory (MPL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sivananthan Laboratories Inc, its group companies, the Institute for Solar Photovoltaic Innovation, Research, and Edu-training (InSPIRE).
Dr.Sivananthan’s humble journey began in Chavakacheri, Sri Lanka, where he was the sixth of nine children born to humble, hard-working schoolteachers. He had his primary education at the Saraswathy Vidyalayam Madduvil South and secondary education at Jaffna Hindu College from 1968 to 1975. On successful completion of his schooling, he entered the University of Peradeniya (1976 -1980) to pursue his course of study in Physical Science. In Sri Lanka his parents instilled in him a passion for service to community, and a vision of how to achieve the best through hard work and commitment. He departed Sri Lanka for the United States in 1982 to study at the Microphysics Laboratory (MPL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and obtain Master’s (1985) and Ph.D. (1988) degrees in Physics.
In 1994 Dr.Sivananthan became the Director of MPL and made it his mission to pioneer the growth of MCT, a material for the detection of long-wave electromagnetic radiation. The technology he helped to develop has enabled better imaging in low light and through obscurances and has been used for high-performance night-vision cameras that have enabled new discoveries and saved human lives. Detecting tumors and other illness in the human body (medical), detecting fires and finding people in blinding smoke (emergency), detecting the surface composition of the planets with highly sensitive telescopes and mapping water molecules on the moon by NASA (space), assisting in vehicle navigation at night, in fog or in poor visibility (transportation), identifying internal defects in walls and diagnosing thermal loss in structures (Manufacturing and Inspection) are a few of the many uses of this technology that Dr. Sivananthan helped to develop. As a result of his achievements, he was named Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at UIC in 2010.
He founded EPIR Technologies Inc. (1998) and Sivananthan Laboratories Inc. (2009), a Bell Labs-styled incubator, to assist in the further development and incubation of the technologies he has helped to develop. A closely related material, cadmium telluride, which he developed for use in the growth of MCT, is now the basis of one of the world’s leading solar-energy technologies, serving as a platform for ground-breaking, next-generation solar cells. To that end, in 2012 he helped to found the non-profit institution InSPIRE, whose mission is to train Illinois’s workforce and to excite Illinois college and high school students to create a renewable-energy, solar eco-system in Illinois. He also has taken it upon himself to help the children of Chicago to obtain a good education by establishing programs and scholarships to assist students, science teachers and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based student clubs at local schools. He envisions America’s heartland becoming a hub for solar technology, providing good-paying jobs for thousands of workers and a source of highly trained students in STEM fields.
On May 29, 2013, Dr. Sivananthan was named one of eleven people as Immigrant Innovator “Champions of Change” by the White House, and one of five “Outstanding Americans by Choice” by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Immigrant Innovator Champions of Change award highlights immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs who are helping create American jobs, grow the U.S. economy, and make America more competitive. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business in the U.S. as are the native-born, and more than 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. The Outstanding American by Choice award recognizes the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens who have demonstrated their commitment to America and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans. Among his other accomplishments, Dr. Sivananthan is a Life Member and a Fellow of both APS and SPIE, and a senior member of IEEE. In 2010 he was elected to be an APS Fellow for his seminal contributions to the growth technology of II-VI photovoltaic materials, and in 2013 was elected to be a Fellow of SPIE for his achievements in the development of II-VI infrared detectors and photovoltaic technology. Over the course of his academic career, he has advised 28 graduate (Ph.D and Masters) students and has served on a total of 57 Ph.D. and M.S. thesis committees. He is currently advising nine graduate and three undergraduate students.
Dr. Sivananthan’s mission in life always has been to give his very best – to his family and friends, his students, his research, his business, his country, and the world at large. He gives credit to his family and friends and his team at UIC and at Sivananthan Laboratories and its group companies for his life-long achievements and success. He considers himself blessed to have talented people around him and takes credit only for having hired them. In his own words “Our success has been and always will be a product of team work.”Dr.Siva is the founder of the high-tech, Bell-Labs-styled incubator, Sivananthan Laboratories, Inc. in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Sivananthan Laboratories Inc ( “Labs”) was formed in 2009 to act as a high-tech business incubator focused on promoting economic growth in Illinois and the United States through fostering cutting-edge, fundamental research and development that bridges the gap between academia and industry. The Laboratories’ focus is on infared technology, radiation detection, materials research and biosensors. Sivananthan Labs is also leading an effort to develop a next-generation solar power. He has helped found InSPIRE (the non-profit Institute for Solar Photovoltaic Innovation, Research, and Edu-training), whose mission is training Illinois’s workforce and exciting Illinois undergraduate and high school students to create a renewable energy and solar eco-system in Illinois.
Dr.Siva has been a pioneer in the growth of single-crystal II-VI materials on silicon and proposed their use for the manufacture of ultrahigh-efficiency single-crystal II-VI on silicon photovoltaic solar cells fifteen years ago. Dr. Sivananthan founded the EPIR Technologies in 1997 for the commercialization of MBE-grown CdTe on silicon (CdTe/Si) for defense infrared night vision applications and the development of ultrahigh-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells. He functioned as its Chief Executive Officer and President.
He is also a pioneer in the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) growth and the characterization of HgCdTe, including the first MBE growth at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) of HgCdTe on CdZnTe and on CdTe/Si development, today the leading substrates for its growth. He has presented over 250 refereed publications in the field of II-VI semiconductor research and development, delivered numerous invited talks and co-chaired the “U.S. Workshop on the Physics and Chemistry of II-VI Materials” many a times.
Dr.Sivananthan's honors include White House Champions of Change and “Outstanding Americans by Choice” by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2013, Friend of the Night award by the U.S. Army Night Vision in 2005, and Electronic Sensors Directorate in 2005 for his leadership in this field and his many contributions to infrared sensor technology. He also served as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves, the National Advisory Board for the Nanotechnology Core Facility, Advisory Board for Illinois College of Technology, and was an editor of the Proceedings of the US Workshop on the Physics and Chemistry of II-VI Materials.