The Michigan Engineer News Center

Robert W. Albrecht (1935–2020): In Memoriam

The NERS graduate became a professor of nuclear and electrical engineering at the University of Washington.| Short Read
Enlargestudents and a teacher looking over a a large panel with dials and knobs in the late 1950s
IMAGE:  NERS students attending class at the Ford Nuclear Reactor. Charles Ricker, instructor in Nuclear Engineering, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, and Reactor Operator, describes the operation of the control panel. Albrecht is on the far left.

Robert W. (Bob) Albrecht (NERS MS ‘57, PhD ‘61), alumnus of the U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS), passed away on June 6, 2020, at the age of 85.

Dr. Albrecht completed his undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering at Purdue University. He went on to earn his master and doctorate degrees in Nuclear Engineering from NERS with a fellowship from the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1961, he was awarded the Mark Mills Award by the American Nuclear Society. It is awarded to the graduate student author who submits the best original technical paper contributing to the advancement of science and engineering related to the atomic nucleus. Dr. Albrecht was the first recipient from U-M to receive the award, and the third overall. 

Dr. Ron Fleming, NERS grad and friend of Dr. Albrecht’s, recalls that “Bob always looked, acted and dressed like a professor—even as a grad student, or at least it seemed so to me.”

Dr. Albrecht led a distinguished life as a professor of nuclear and electrical engineering at the University of Washington. During his 40-year career, he was a mentor to numerous graduate students and consulted at research facilities and nuclear plants internationally. 

Dr. Albrecht was a strong proponent of breeder reactors as the most practical way to ensure a reliable electrical energy supply in the future. In his last decade at the university, he created an autonomous robotics lab to do early work on sensors and mobility.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; his son, Robert Albrecht Jr., with daughters Renee and Amelia; and his daughter, Liz Behlke with her daughter Aurora. 

Read Dr. Albrecht’s obituary in the Seattle Times here

students and a teacher looking over a a large panel with dials and knobs in the late 1950s
The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read