Senior Marketer, Scientific Research Instruments
Keithley Instruments, Inc.
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
- Bachelors of Electrical Engineering, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, 1984
- Masters of Business Administration, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 1998
Jonathan Tucker is responsible for the development and growth of Keithley’s Research & Education business, Scientific Research Instruments product line, and development of working relationships with key industry, academic, and government consortia groups within the international nanotechnology community.
Advice to Students:
“When choosing your classes, pick areas of science that you will really enjoy and learn as much as you can. Don’t forget to take courses in advanced mathematics. Study hard! Also make sure that you get involved by joining science clubs and if possible, get involved in some forms of research even at the undergraduate level.”
Q: When did you first find that your career path focused on nanotechnology?
Tucker: My first exposure to nanotechnology came from attending a Nanotech Planet Conference in Boston back in 2001. Listening to distinguished researchers, I recognized that Keithley Instruments could be well positioned to serve nanoscience for those who need to make very sensitive and low level electrical measurements on materials and devices. From there, I made it a priority to learn as much as I could about nanotechnology and focus my career on nanotechnology. I networked with scientists and professors from key universities to learn all that I could so that I could take their knowledge and address the many emerging measurement needs that nanotechnology will require.
Q: What current nanotechnology applications are you working on?
Tucker: Although I don’t personally work on nanotechnology research in a laboratory, I am constantly reviewing research papers and meeting with researchers and scientists to understand their emerging electrical measurement needs. By capturing their needs and understanding the challenges they are facing, our team can work towards the development of new electrical measurement instrumentation and techniques. This is always ongoing work.
Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about working with nanotechnology?
Tucker: Working in nanotechnology created opportunities for me to travel around the world giving presentations on the subject of making effective low level electrical measurements on nanoscale materials and devices. There are so many young scientists coming into nanotechnology that it is important they know how to make good measurements. I get a sense of accomplishment when someone tells me that they learned something new from one of my presentations. It’s exciting when you get to meet with and listen to leading nanotechnology experts so you can continue the learning process. It is also rewarding to participate with the IEEE Nanotechnology Council and to be their chairman of the IEEE NTC Standards Committee. The development of standards is at its infancy and I am proud to be contributing towards the development of standards and guidelines for nanotechnology, especially as they pertain to electrical measurements.
Q: Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you’ve worked on has positively impacted the world?
Tucker: I had the opportunity to participate in the development of IEEE 1650TM-2005: IEEE Standard Test Methods for Measurement of Electrical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes. This document was one of the first documented standards for nanotechnology. The effort took three years and the persistence of many good people from around the world to come together and agree on basic electrical test methods on Carbon Nanotubes. IEEE 1650 set the stage for other nano standards efforts to move into development within IEEE and to be recognized by other standards development organizations (SDO) such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It also set in motion the development of the Nanoelectronics Standards Roadmap (NESR) initiative within IEEE, an initiative that also has been recognized by many SDO’s. It is very exciting to be a part of initiatives that have or will have a positive impact on nanotechnology and hopefully the world.
Q: What do you think is the single greatest impact nanotechnology has had on the world thus far?
Tucker: I’m not sure that we have had that greatest impact moment yet. Yes, there have been many important discoveries. These discoveries have enabled new technologies in areas such as new instrumentation, sensors and materials. It is my belief that the greatest impact attributable to nanotechnology will be in the area of health care and I expect that within the next 5 years.
Q: Please give an example of what you envision nanotechnology applications leading to in the future.
Tucker: Two very important applications that come to my mind are nanoelectronics and alternative energy. Consumers are constantly demanding feature rich electronic products that are faster and in smaller packages. For example, the Apple iPhone is a remarkable consumer electronic product that combines communications, entertainment, and navigation in a very small form factor. Such products require sophisticated electronics on a much smaller scale. Consumers will continue to demand these types of technology driven products, which will require the next generation of ‘beyond CMOS’ nanoelectronics. The second application is alternative energy. To reduce dependency on fossil fuels, extensive research is taking place in solar and fuel cells. Nanotechnology will be a key enabler in these areas. The development of unique nanomaterials that have higher conductivities will help drive down the costs of fuel cell technology, making it a viable energy alternative. Advancements in nanomaterials will enable solar cells to convert light into electricity at much higher efficiency, making them a cost-effective solution. The end result will be clean and inexpensive energy.
Q: Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
Tucker: I have learned over the years that you will accomplish more by working in a team situation. When I started the business development for nanotechnology at Keithley Instruments, I realized that I needed the help of others within the company to complete many tasks. Brochures required the help of the commercial marketing team. Developing seminars often required the help of our Applications Department. We would all come together with our talents to complete numerous tasks. Even in the area of developing standards for nanotechnology, no one individual can do it all. It takes the unique talents of many people to accomplish simple goals.
Q: If you work more as a team, what are some of the other areas of expertise of your team members?
Tucker: We have experts in unique low level electrical measurements methodologies, physics, layout artists for brochures, and communication specialists for reaching out to people.
Q: Did your university training help you in your nanotechnology work?
Tucker: I never would have anticipated that my electrical engineering education would lead to an interest in nanotechnology. Not too many people were talking ‘nanotechnology’ back in the early eighties. It proves that the basic training and knowledge you receive in college will serve you into the future.
Q: Do you have a mentor? Did you in your college years?
Tucker: I have had numerous mentors along my career. I have learned through my career that seeking advice from experts and mentors helps me to solve challenging problems and to see ideas from a different point of view. Today, my closest mentor is Evelyn Hirt at the Pacific Northwest National Labs. She gives me advice and offers suggestions on how to get things done within IEEE and how to make the development of standards for nanotechnology a high priority. Evelyn, along with Dr. Meyyappan from NASA Ames, helped me to contribute articles about nanotechnology standards for the IEEE Nanotechnology Magazine.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still focus on nanotechnology applications?
Tucker: Absolutely! Nanotechnology is such an exciting field. Hearing how researchers and scientists are using our equipment to help them make new discoveries constantly makes my job that much more rewarding.
Q: What advice do you have for pre-university students?
Tucker: Read as much as you can about nanotechnology. You can do simple Google searches to find published papers on many subjects within nanotechnology. When choosing your classes, pick areas of science that you will really enjoy and learn as much as you can. Don’t forget to take course in advanced mathematics if you can. Study hard! Also make sure that you get involved by joining science clubs and if possible, get involved in some forms of research even at the undergraduate level when you get to the University.