Misra, Escuti receive Alcoa Foundation Research Awards

May 17, 2011

Dr. Veena Misra and Dr. Michael Escuti
Dr. Veena Misra and Dr. Michael Escuti

The Alcoa Foundation Engineering Research Awards for 2011 were presented to Dr. Veena Misra, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dr. Michael J. Escuti, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, at the spring faculty meeting for the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University.

Misra received the Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Engineering Research Award, made to a senior faculty member for research achievements over a period of at least five years at NC State. Escuti was awarded the Alcoa Foundation Engineering Research Achievement Award, intended to recognize young faculty who have accomplished outstanding research achievements during the preceding three years.

Misra is a world-renowned expert in the area of advanced CMOS materials and devices, nanoelectronics for memory and logic, organic solar cells, wide bandgap power devices, and bioelectronics. Her contribution to the exploration and development of advanced gate electrodes for high-k gated CMOS transistors is unmatched by researchers at any other university. She has developed a methodology for determining effective work functions of metal gates deposited on high-k gate dielectrics, which has been adapted and widely used in the gate stack community. Prior to her focus on the gate electrodes, Misra made valuable contributions to advanced gate dielectrics. Having expertise in both advanced gate dielectrics and advanced gate electrodes is a powerful combination that has served her well in this critical juncture when the semiconductor industry is making an extraordinary transition to adapt new materials for the gate stack.

During the past five years, Misra has authored 94 reviewed journal papers and 48 conference papers and given 35 invited talks. She has also graduated 11 PhD students and received several million dollars to support her research activities during this time. Her many honors include the NC State Alumni Research Award, the NSF Presidential Early CAREER Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the Alcoa Foundation Engineering Research Achievement Award. Misra received her PhD in electrical engineering from NC State in 1995 and joined the faculty in 1998.

Escuti's work developing new polarization gratings, as well as devices and applications based on them, has been extremely influential at the international level. His groundbreaking work has shown how these polarization gratings, with the improvement he has made in them, can solve problems in optics that many had thought unsolvable. This work is widely viewed as having changed the way industry views non-mechanical laser beam scanning. Escuti is commercializing his research through several industrial partnerships, including a promising start-up company, ImagineOptix, that has already prototyped a miniature, highly efficient projection display that has the potential to revolutionize displays on hand-held and mobile devices.

Escuti's research has resulted in 28 journal publications, 49 refereed conference proceedings, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, three awarded patents and seven pending patents. He has also received $4.3 million in external research funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, Raytheon and many other public and private sources. Escuti also mentors graduate students and directs the work of undergraduate researchers. He received his PhD in electrical engineering from Brown University in 2002 and joined the faculty at NC State in 2004.

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