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Bill Knowlton, Ph.D.

Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering
Phone: 208-426-5705 | Fax: 208-426-2470 | Office: ERB 3125
Bill Knowlton


Dr. William B. Knowlton received his B.S in 1992, M.S. in 1995, and Ph.D. in 1998, in materials science and engineering from the University of California at Berkeley under the direction of Professor Eugene Haller. For his master of science work, he fabricated one of the first prototype dark matter particle (weakly interacting massive particle candidate or WIMP) detectors operating at 20 mK using phonon transparent ultra pure Ge eutectically bonded to neutron transmutation doped Ge. His doctoral work included the study of point defects and modeling diffusion in silicon and the development, fabrication, characterization of x-ray detectors and far-infrared resonant detectors. In 1997, he joined Hewlett Packard Labs where he studied dislocations and structural properties in heteroepitaxial grown thin film and bulk grown GaN materials systems to optimize light output in light emitting diodes (LEDs). He joined Insight Analytical Labs in 1998 where he consulted and performed electromigration and dielectric reliability studies.

In 2000, he joined the faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Boise State University. With Dr. Amy Moll (Materials Science and Engineering), he co-founded the graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering in 2002 and the Department Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) in 2004 for which he was the Graduate Program Coordinator from 2004-2015. He holds a joint appointment in MSE and ECE. His current research interest focuses on using DNA nanotechnology to fabricate excitonic devices. Excitonics, a sub-field of nanophotonics, is the study of the capture of light energy by matter, below the diffraction limit of light, and the subsequent creation and transport of energy in the form of excitons. This process is the same that occurs in natural photosynthetic light harvesting systems. His past research activities included MOS device reliability physics where he was part of a team that created the Boise State Energy Band Diagram Program, nanofabrication, biomaterials, and magnetic materials. Since 2007, several colleagues and he have developed an inherently multidisciplinary research cohort, the Nanoscale Materials & Device Group, in which they share ideas, students, and resources. The undergraduate and graduate students performing research in this research cohort are majoring in materials science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Prof. Knowlton has been honored with several teaching and research awards including 2017 Outstanding Faculty Award presented by the MSMSE 2017 Senior Class, 2011, 2008, and 2004 Boise State University Top Ten Scholar/Alumni Association Honored Faculty Member Awards, 2007 College of Engineering Professor of the Year Award, 2004 IEEE Student Chapter Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor of the Year Award, the 2004 Boise State University Presidential Research and Scholarship Award and as a 2002 NSF New Century Scholar. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (Senior Member), Materials Research Society, and the American Physical Society. From 2002 – 2005 and 2008-2011, he has been a member of the organizing committee for the IEEE International Integrated Reliability Workshop.