An Interview with Dr. Baliga

November 18, 2009

Jay Baliga in his lab. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD 
Jay Baliga in his lab. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD recently sat down with Dr. Jayant Baliga to discuss his role in the semiconductor revolution.

Dr. Baliga on his early life: "I grew up in a small village called Jalahalli near Bangalore, India. I obtained my Bachelors degree from IIT-Madras. After that, I was ambitious and wanted to do something that serves humanity. I came to the US in 1969 to do research to fulfill this mission. I completed my PhD at RPI in 1974. During my research at RPI, I developed a new process to grow semiconductor material. Today, all microwave transistors and LEDs are manufactured by using this process."

Jay Baliga and some of his many patents and awards. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD 
Jay Baliga and some of his many patents and awards. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD

Regarding his invention of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT): "The IGBT is now produced by a dozen companies around the world and is used in regular cars for running the ignition system, electric cars for running electric motors and even in bullet trains. It is used in compact fluorescent lamps to save about 75% of energy. It is used in UPS systems and to control robots in factories. Recently, the IGBT has been used to create portable defibrillators which can save 100,000 lives per year."

On being named one of the Eight Heroes of the Semiconductor Revolution by Scientific American, "I didn't expect it. There are so many thousands and thousands of people who have made contributions in semiconductors. Getting this recognition as one of the Eight Heroes is something special. I got a phone call from the editor saying he heard about a super-transistor called the IGBT and wanted me to contribute an article on the device. When the magazine was published, I read the editorial page and was delightfully surprised to find out that they had named me as one of the eight heroes among the people who were my inspiration when I joined the field."

When asked what advice he would give to people looking to follow him, Baliga says "Be passionate about what you do. Have a mission that excites you. In my case, service to humanity was my mission. And remember to work hard towards your goal."

For a more on Dr. Jayant Baliga including more interview questions and more in-depth responses, read the original article.