Elias Towe was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, where he was also a Vinton Hayes Fellow. Prior to joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon in 2001, he was, at the same time, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia, and a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Towe is a recipient of several awards and honors. He is currently a professor in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Towe’s group pursues research in basic optical and quantum phenomena in materials for applications in novel photonic devices that enable a new generation of information processing systems for communication, computation, and sensing. The group is also interested in understanding new pathways and fundamental mechanisms for solar energy conversion devices. Current focus is on the use of phenomena (such as three-dimensional quantum-confinement effects in nanometer-scale structures) in the study of novel devices. Examples include quantum-dot infrared detectors and imaging sensors, electrically-pumped photonic crystal micro-cavity lasers with quantum-dot active regions, multi-spectral solar energy conversion devices, plasmonic bio-sensors, and fluorescence bio-sensing devices.

147 Roberts Engineering Hall


1987 Ph.D., EECS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1981 MS, EECS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1981 BS, EECS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Interests

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

CMU names University Professors

Three College of Engineering faculty members have been elevated to the rank of University Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member can receive at Carnegie Mellon.

CMU Engineering

New center to investigate quantum computing

A new National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Center at CMU will create an ecosystem that advances quantum computing and information technologies.

CMU Engineering

Faculty and alumnus inducted into the National Academy of Engineering

College of Engineering dean, professor, and alumnus inducted in the National Academy of Engineering.

CMU Engineering

Faculty and alumni elected to National Academy of Engineering

Carnegie Mellon University’s Bill Sanders, Elias Towe, Anirudh Devgan, and Stefan Savage have received the prestigious honor of election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

CMU Engineering

CMU alumnus creates “Dynamic” COVID solution

Alumnus Jeff Mullen (ECE ’00, Tepper ’09) and his company, Dynamics Inc., have created an innovative way to inactivate coronavirus in the air.

CMU Engineering

A universal port for the brain

The team is creating a smart port to the brain that will use artificial intelligence to selectively stimulate and record from the brain.

CMU Engineering

Illuminating neurons deep in the brain

An interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers at CMU has produced a new type of neural probe with an innovative design, improving the way researchers study neurons deep in the brain.