Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
" "
Spotlight

Matthew Edwards

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
I’m interested in the ability of high-powered lasers, with their extremely bright light, to help us develop new devices and new types of technology.

One problem we’re studying is how to take devices that produce lots of power and shrink them down so that they have the capability of full-size devices, but are much smaller and more compact. Rather than construct very large accelerators like the one at the Department of Energy’s SLAC facility in Menlo Park, for example, we could potentially build the same thing on a tabletop.

We’re also using these high-powered lasers to try and solve problems that are on the path to building power plants based on fusion. Both of these ideas are very large-scale and difficult challenges, but they’re the type of problems this research might allow us to solve.

Our work has potential in a variety of fields. Some of the X-ray imaging and particle acceleration work we do, for example, has applications in medicine, either for developing new and better medical imaging techniques, or for helping doctors more accurately peer inside the body without cutting it open. Accelerated particles that can be controlled could be used to target and destroy cancerous tumors in very specific parts of the body.

When I was young, I liked to build things like model airplanes and gear boxes. But I didn’t really know what engineering was or that you could study it as a career until I got to college. Once I was there and understood that I could study how mechanical systems worked, I chose that path. I’ve explored a lot of different aspects of mechanical engineering over the past 15 years, ranging from robotics to laser physics. I enjoy working at Stanford because of the high caliber of students here; I get to interact with the best people, and help introduce them to this area of research, which is exciting.

I love this work; it’s just fun to go to the lab and think about how we might be able to use some process we’ve only recently seen, or some new piece of science, to do something that hasn’t been done before that hopefully will help make the world a little bit better. 

Related spotlights

Portrait of Lara Weed leaning against a marble sphere in the Science and Engineering Quad in springtime.

Lara Weed

PhD candidate
Bioengineering
I was always interested in how the world worked, and looking back now, I can see my interest in performance optimization developing over time.
Read Lara Weed's story
Portrait of Sebastian Fernandez, wearing a black coat and top, standing outside.

Sebastian Fernández

PhD candidate
Electrical Engineering
I was born in Cusco, Peru, located at an altitude of 11,000 feet in the Andes, where we lived with my extended family until I was 2 years old.
Read Sebastian Fernández's story
Portrait of Alicia Sheares, arms crossed and smiling directly at the camera.

Alicia Sheares

Assistant Professor
Management Science and Engineering
I grew up about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia in Bucks County, where we were a Black family in a predominantly white neighborhood.
Read Alicia Sheares's story