Rodrick Kuate Defo

Assistant Professor

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Areas of Expertise: 

  • Quantum theory of solids 
  • Computational electronic structure methods 
  • Point defects in semiconductors 
  • Inverse design for large-scale photonic optimization

Kuate Defo’s research is focused on the theory underpinning the design of efficient devices for classical and quantum sensing, communication, and computation. His research achieves these aims through the development of ab-initio approaches to predict solid-state material properties; the determination of fundamental limits and efficient topology-optimization procedures to enhance light-matter interactions in nanophotonic devices; and the discovery and characterization of materials. He is particularly interested in the charge-state stability of point defects in wide band gap semiconductors for quantum sensing applications and in the dynamical process by which equilibrium of the Fermi level occurs in semiconductors. His program for research in nanophotonics uses computational and theoretical techniques to explore nanostructuring as a means of engineering materials with desirable figures of merit including large photonic bandgaps or significant Purcell enhancement.

Honors and Awards: 

  • Editors’ Suggestion, Physical Review B, 2023 
  • US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, Oct. 2022 – 2023 
  • Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Princeton University, Sept. 2020Aug. 2022 (deferred to Jan. 2021 – Dec. 2022) 
  • Commencement Marshal, Harvard University, May 2020 
  • Institute for Applied Computational Science Student Scholarship, Harvard University, Sept. 2017 – Aug. 2018 

Selected Publications:  

R. Kuate Defo and S. L. Richardson, “Investigating the initialization and readout of relative populations of NV and NV0 defects in diamond,” J. Appl. Phys. 135, 245702 (2024).  

B. Strekha, P. Chao, R. Kuate Defo, S. Molesky, A. W. Rodriguez. “Suppressing Electromagnetic Local Density of States via Slow Light in Lossy Quasi-One-Dimensional Gratings,” Phys. Rev A 109, L041501, (2024). 

R. Kuate Defo, A. W. Rodriguez, and S. L. Richardson. “Charge-State Stability of Color Centers in Wide-Bandgap Semiconductors,” Phys. Rev. B 108, 235208 (2023). 

R. Kuate Defo, A. W. Rodriguez, E. Kaxiras, S. L. Richardson, “Theoretical Investigation of Charge Transfer Between Two Defects in a Wide Band Gap Semiconductor,” Phys. Rev. B 107, 125305, (2023). 

P. Chao, R. Kuate Defo, S. Molesky and A. W. Rodriguez, “Maximum Electromagnetic Local Density of States via Material Structuring,” Nanophotonics 12(3), 549–557 (2022).  

R. Kuate Defo, E. Kaxiras, and S. L. Richardson, “Calculating the Hyperfine Tensors for Group-IV Impurity-Vacancy Centers in Diamond Using Hybrid Density Functional Theory,” Phys. Rev. B 104, 075158, (2021).  

R. Kuate Defo, E. Kaxiras, and S. L. Richardson, “How Carbon Vacancies Can Affect the Properties of Group IV Color Centers in Diamond: A Study of Thermodynamics and Kinetics,” J. Appl. Phys. 126, 195103 (2019).