Sciences Spotlight inside logo

Maria Tamargo Maria Tamargo joined the Chemistry department at City College in 1993 and is a member of the CUNY doctoral faculty in both Chemistry and Physics, as well as the Electrical Engineering doctoral faculty at the Grove School of Engineering. She was the Dean of Science and City College (2001-2007) and served as Executive Officer in Chemistry at the GC from 2011 to 2014. Professor Tamargo is director of the National Science Foundation's CREST Center for Interface Design and Engineered Assembly of Low-dimensional Systems, known by the acronym IDEALS.

Professor Tamargo received her PhD at Johns Hopkins University and before joining the team at City College she was a member of the Technical Staff at Bellcore in Red Bank, NJ where she led a program on II-VI materials growth by a technique known as Molecular Beam Epitaxy or MBE. Before that, she was at AT&T Bell Labs in Reading, PA and in Murray Hill, NJ, where she worked on Liquid Phase Epitaxy (LPE) of GaAlAs lasers and InGaAsP Avalanche Photodectors (APDs) for optical communications system

Professor Tamargo’s current research is focused on MBE growth and the characterization of semiconductor materials for photonic and electronic applications. As a leading Cuban-American scientist, she describes her research as “an evaporation technique.” She develops “with very precise control, so you can make extremely thin layers and stacks of layers. [This is] so you can manipulate the properties that you get from the materials at the end. These are materials for applications in electronics and photonics. Then we make semi-conductor devices out of them.”

Her research group at City College is primarily focused on wide bandgap II-VI compounds for visible light emitting devices. Specifically, they are investigating the growth and properties of a family of wide bandgap II-VI semiconductors, ZnCdMgSe, grown lattice-matched to InP substrates by MBE. By optimizing the growth conditions they have reduced defect densities to the level of other more well-known II-VI compounds grown on GaAs. These new alloys and their heterostructures possess properties (band structures, lattice constants, band offsets and doping) that are attractive and offer advantages for the design of improved visible semiconductor lasers and LEDs. These devices are of interest for optical recording, displays and communications applications. Recently, she has initiated a project on an exciting new class of materials known as Tolpological Insulators. Made from layered crystals of Bi2Se3 and related materials, these materials are being actively sought for applications in spintronics and quantum computing.

Professor Tamargo’s research on molecular beam epitaxy ranks among the most innovative in the field and in 2017 she was awarded the MBE Innovator Award by the North American Molecular Beam Epitaxy Advisory Board. This award recognizes individuals whose work has both advanced the field of molecular beam epitaxy and continues to have a significant impact on the advancement of MBE technology.