Durgamadhab Misra is the newest member of NJIT's Newark College of Engineering to become a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Misra won the prestigious award for his ongoing research on preventing transistors from leaking electrons. Every time a transistor leaks an electron, it wastes battery life or hurts performance.
Specifically, Misra devoted the last 15 years of his career to studying the reliability of what engineers call high-k dielectrics. The term refers to a material's dielectric constant, which is a measure of its ability to insulate electricity. Engineers face the paradox of how to make transistors smaller while not losing their dielectric material's insulative ability.
Chip manufacturers started using high-k dielectrics in transistors when the silicon dioxide thickness became too thin to prevent leakage, which happened around 2005.
For context, the processor in a modern smartphone has several billion transistors. The industry's best transistors in 2020 will be 5 nanometers, which is 2,000 times smaller than the 10-micrometer transistors he studied as a graduate student in the 1980s.
"Many people were working on it. My contribution was mostly to look at the reliability of these things," such as by applying voltage and seeing how long it lasts before depleting, Misra explained.
His methods were common by 2006-2007, but he's been leading a constant chase as transistors continue shrinking today. The modern dielectric constant thickness of the best transistors is 0.7 nanometers.
"It cannot go to zero. Now they have to find a way to go below .7 nanometers at this point. They are working on even higher-k dielectric material," Misra said.
His research now focuses on other materials such as germanium as a substrate to replace silicon. He also studies devices for artificial intelligence and how to make electronic synapses.
Misra is the 14th current member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to become an IEEE Fellow. The award is capped at one-tenth of 1% of the organization's 400,000 voting members annually.
About New Jersey Institute of Technology:
One of only 32 polytechnic universities in the United States, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. NJIT is rated an "R1" research university by the Carnegie Classification®, which indicates the highest level of research activity. NJIT conducts approximately $170 million in research activity each year and has a $2.8 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey. NJIT is ranked #1 nationally by Forbes for the upward economic mobility of its lowest-income students and is ranked 53rd out of more than 4,000 colleges and universities for the mid-career earnings of graduates, according to PayScale.com. NJIT also is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 100 national universities.