Chennupati Jagadish

Distinguished Professor
Australian National University
Canberra, Australia

Chennupati Jagadish

Distinguished Professor
Australian National University
Canberra, Australia


  • BSc Physics, Nagarjuna University, India, 1977
  • MSc(Tech) Applied Physics (Electronics), Andhra University, India, 1980
  • MPhil Physics, Delhi University, India, 1982
  • PhD Physics, Delhi University, India, 1986

Work Focus:

“We work on compound semiconductor nanostructures for optoelectronics, energy and neuroscience applications.  Our interests are in developing quantum, nanowires, nanomembranes for lasers, LEDs, photodetectors, solar cells, photoelectrodes for photoelectrical chemical water splitting, biosensors and neuronal electrodes.”

Advice to Students:

Choose something you are passionate about, dream big, aim high, learn as many skills as possible, believe in yourself, work hard and smart.



In which technical fields within Nanotechnology does your work apply best?

  • Nano-Materials
  • Nanofabrication
  • Nano-Optics, Nano-Photonics, and Nano-Optoelectronics
  • Nano Energy, Environment and Safety

Q: When did you first find that your career path focused on nanotechnology?
Jagadish:  We started working in nanotechnology in early 90s growth quantum dots, quantum wires for optoelectronics applications. We have been continue to work in this field since then with most recent focus has been on nanowires and nanomembranes.      

Q: What current nanotechnology applications are you working on?  
Jagadish: We have been developing nanowire and nanomembrane based lasers and LEDs for flexible displays, meta-optics, sensing and communications. We have been developing nanostructures for solar cells, hydrogen generation through photoelectrical water splitting, neuronal electrodes for measuring neuronal signals and engineering.  We have recently demonstrated THz detectors with polarization sensitivity.        

Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about working with nanotechnology?
Jagadish: Starting from exploring fundamental ideas in science to developing devices which can find real world applications.  This full spectrum is exciting and stimulating.    

Q: Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you’ve worked on has positively impacted the world?
 Quantum dot lasers we have worked on, along with contributions from many other groups have been used in optical communication systems and quantum dot infrared photodetectors are used in thermal imaging and night vision applications.   

Q:  In which areas do you anticipate future commercialization of nanotechnology having the greatest positive impact on the world?
Jagadish: The biggest impact will be in biomedical fields with targeted drug delivery, single molecule detection of diseases at the early stage.  Also, use of neuronal electrodes for measuring brain signals and stimulating neurons to help patients with neurological disorders. Another area is meta-optics and use of technologies in LIDAR, dynamic holograms, LiFi.

Q: What do you think is the single greatest impact nanotechnology has had on the world thus far?  
Jagadish: Quantum dots are already used in TVs, displays, biomedical imaging and quantum dot devices are already used in optical communications and night vision applications.    

Q: Over the past decade, nanotechnology has moved out of the lab and is making a real impact in society.  Have you worked on any efforts that helped to commercialize nanotechnology and resulted in new products or processes? 
Jagadish: We have worked on high power semiconductor lasers and started a company to commercialize our technology as they are needed in optical communication systems. However due to crash of communication markets in early 2000s, we had to close the company. My students and post-docs are running companies developing LEDs for lighting and projection applications.

Q: Did your university training help you in your nanotechnology work?
 I had a broad background in Physics, Materials Science and Electronics and this broad background turned out to be a boon to be about to do fundamental science as well as developing device technologies.      

Q: Do you have a mentor?  Did you in your college years?
Jagadish: I started my life in a small village in India and studied in front of a kerosene lamp till I completed my year 7, then lived with my Maths teacher in a  neighboring village to complete my high school.  I am grateful to my parents and two of my high school teachers. Without their help, I wouldn’t have completed my high school.  Many people helped me in my life. Late Prof. David Atherton at Queen’s University, Canada has given me a break to work with him as a post-doctoral fellow in magnetics though my PhD was in semiconductors.  I am grateful to him for giving me this break as I tried for post-doctoral fellowships over 3 years with more than 300 rejection letters.  In those days there was no internet and we used to get magazines 6 months late by sea mail in India and I used to apply for all the jobs which I thought were relevant to me. Late Professor Jim Whitton recommended me to Prof. Jim Williams at the ANU and I moved to ANU in 1990 July with a 2 month old baby and a 2 year contract to join a newly established Department of Electronic Materials Engineering, Research School of Physics.  ANU has been good to me and supported me during the past 30 years.  Prof. Erich Weigold has been a great mentor along with Prof. Jim Williams at the ANU.  I am grateful for their support.  I am grateful to India for providing me all the education and nurturing me from childhood to adulthood and to Australia for providing me the opportunity to prove myself as a Scientist.  Of course research is a collective effort and I want to thank my students, post-doctoral fellows, young academics and collaborators for their contribution to our joint research.   

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still focus on nanotechnology applications?
: Yes.  I would do this again as it has been great fun working in the field of nanotechnology and developing technologies with an impact on the society.  I would probably learn bit more biology as nanotechnology is a multi-disciplinary field, and having a broader background helps. 

Q: If a high school or college student was interested in nanotechnology, what advice would you give them to help prepare take on those roles?
 Please choose something you are passionate about, dream big, aim high, learn as many skills as possible, believe in yourself, work hard and smart.  Persistence and perseverance are essential in life to achieve your goals and dreams.  Be generous to others, learn communication and leadership skills. Please take care of your health and spend quality time with your family while having fun doing your studies or work.