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Towards smaller,better gadgets

Mayank Shrivastava’s chip technology can bring down the size,weight and cost of electronic devices....

Mayank Shrivastava remembers how,as a child,curiosity got the better of him. “My father was an electronic engineer and one day he was working with some delicate chips. He saw me looking,read my thoughts and strictly forbade me from touching the chips,” he says. For Shrivastava,then a boy of 10,it was a challenge—he wanted to hold the chips in his hand and see the consequences for himself. It’s another matter that he damaged the chips,much to his father’s annoyance. Fifteen years later,the nanoelectronics research scholar at IIT Bombay is working in the same field as his father.

In December last year,Shrivastava’s thesis on ‘System on Chip’ (SoC)— concept of putting an entire electronic system inside a single chip,thereby bringing down the size,weight and cost of the device—was validated at the renowned International Electronic Device Meeting in Baltimore,an international forum for reporting breakthroughs in technology,design,manufactu-ring,physics and the modelling of semiconductors and other electronic devices.

More recently,the thesis was shortlisted by Technology Review,one of the oldest tech magazines in the world published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,for the TR-35 awards to be presented in Bangalore on Monday.

“All our gadgets—the mobile phone for example—are equipped with various semiconductor chips,which enable different functionalities. An electronic chip consists of several information processing modules which take information from the outside world (other real time systems) or from another chip,process it and send the processed information back to the real world. To interface these modules with the outside world,input-output (I/O) circuit modules are used. These I/O modules use different voltages. My invention,the SoC,finds a way to interface these modules through one system,” Shrivastava explains.

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For the layman,this could bring down the device cost drastically and reduce power consumption by letting the charge last longer. Besides,the device would weigh less and become smaller and sleeker. “Eventually,such a system will help develop faster and cheaper computers or other consumer electronics,” he says.

Shrivastava claims he was never a “geek”. Schooled in Lucknow,he was an avid athlete. “I loved to play cricket,table tennis and volleyball. I was a complete sportsperson in school. But I was also interested in physics—to me it was all about learning,and in electronics there is so much to learn,” he says.

In a few months,Shrivastava will be off to pursue further research at Infinem Tech,Fishkill,USA. “After a few years,I will return to Mumbai to be a faculty at IIT. I don’t want to stay abroad forever,here there is great scope to work on my research.”

First published on: 07-03-2010 at 10:04:25 pm
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