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April 13, 2021

Making electronics smaller, faster, cheaper

Q&A with electrical engineering graduate student Sneha Banerjee

Sneha Banerjee is an electrical engineering graduate student in the College of Engineering. She is a Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering fellow for 2020-2021 and won the Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering Graduate Student Symposium Best Presentation Award. Banerjee is also the founder and president of MSU’s Student Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society. Recently, she received the IEEE Nuclear Plasma Sciences Society Graduate Student Award for 2021.

Banerjee will be presenting a summary of her research (“Tunneling Electrical Contacts”) at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 16.

Q: What inspired you to study electrical engineering?

A: My father has a diploma in electrical engineering and his contagious enthusiasm for the subject stimulated an interest in me at an early age. While growing up, I helped him with various small do-it-yourself projects and liked the problem solving nature of the work.

Today, I am motivated by the challenges the electronics industry faces and fascinated by the possibilities. 

Q: How does your research help improve the electronic gadgets of the future?

A: In the future, our gadgets are going to be smaller, lighter, faster and cheaper. Our ever-increasing demands for physical scaling down the size of our gadgets have pushed the electronics industry to its limits. The safety, reliability and lifetime of next-generation small-scale consumer electronics, such as wearable devices and flexible electronics, are major concerns.

Nanoscale electrical junctions (where two electrical contact members, one-billionth of a meter in size, meet forming a complete circuit) are the building blocks of next generation electronics. For the development of future electronics based on thin films and novel nanostructures such as carbon nanotubes, graphene and two-dimensional materials, it is necessary to understand, control and improve how electrical current flows from one nanoscale electrical contact member to another. Our theoretical study can provide helpful insights and guidance to the electronics industry.

Q: What’s the future of this research?

A: Our research can be directly applied to the electronics industry. The predictive models that we have developed allow for improved design of nanoscale semiconductors and integrated circuits, controlling heat buildup at junction points within devices and opening up new circuit design possibilities.

I would like to contribute to the ongoing research and scientific literatures in this area. My advisor Professor Peng Zhang has encouraged me, mentored me and helped me hone my skills.

By: Emilie Lorditch