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Dhawal Mahajan
Dhawal Mahajan

Dhawal Mahajan

Device Modeling Engineer at Maxim Integrated, India

Maxim Integrated

Company and job profile
I am working as device modeling engineer at Maxim Integrated since last five years. My company is a leading manufacturer of mixed signal IC's which are almost ubiquitous in nature - mobile phones, smart energy meters, automotives, power conversion for PC's etc. My profile as a device modelinig engineer focuses on generating reliable and robust SPICE/SPECTRE compact models so that the analog/mixed signal circuit designers are able to design their circuits with the desired accuracy and at the same time within the spec limit as decided by the particular process. For example, correct modeling of MOSFET's in say 180 nm technology may result in +/- 10% deviation in the circuit operating condition, well within the +/- 20 % as allowed by the process variation.
Current Trends
I think following trends in my field to be sure shot game changers:
(1) Integration of MEMS/NEMS sensors with mixed signal IC's.
(2) Integration of III-V semiconductors, especially GaN with conventional Si process will lead to further miniaturization of HV power systems.
(3) Improved compact models like BSMIM 4/6 and PSP are going to make chip designing a perfect art.
(4) Moore's law will eventually be continued through breakthroughs in either carbon nanotubes, Spintronics or FinFet's(same as Intel's 'trigate' transitor). These are the technologies which I consider the future of semiconductor industry. Anything else, for example, polymer based transistors are either too slow or DNA based computing is highly inefficient from the yield(per hour) point of view.
Managing professional as well as personal life
I think that in order to maintain a balance between the two, we must inculcate the habit of adjusting and learning in response to the events around you - whether in personal or in professional life. I think this has resulted in reduction of stress in my life and I feel that there can't be any rule more general than this.
Being different
I choose engineering as a profession because I had a passion for Physics since the beginning. So when I completed my graduation, I was faced with this burning problem which still persists in Indian scenario - People from all the engineering streams eventually make their career either in IT or financial companies! I simply haven't understood this trend that we have. In west people choose a profession they like. They don't care about the salaries(in general) before their passion. So I decided then and there that I will stick to my field and will pursue my passion in Physics too. So after completing my M.Tech from IIT Bombay in Microelectronics, I choose to get into device modeling as it offered a nice balance between device physics and chance to work on solving the problems of circuit designers which can only be answered through experimentation in lab on the device test structures. Thus I have differentiated myself even from those masses who are into designing the circuits.
Challenges faced in job
The thing that's challenging about device modeling is that many a times you have to probe deeper into the problem and arrive at a solution(and there are many!) that best fits the experiment and your sense of judgement keeping in mind the physical principles involved. We not only do a theoretical curve fitting of I-V or C-V curves measured from our instruments but we do it with a constant awareness of the physical principles behind it.
My role model
I had never thought about having a role model for a long time till the moment I started reading in college about the birth of Quantum mechanics and the role Niels Bohr played in its formative years. Niels Bohr was an outstanding nurturer of new ideas and that is evident from the entire new branch of quantum mechanics - matrix mechanics being formulated by his major disciple Werner Heisenberg. Not only this, he fought with the "great" Albert Einstein during the famous 1927 Solvay conference, where apparently everyday Einstein was busy throwing at Bohr at least one thought experiment or Gedanken experiment(German) that jeopardized the validity of Quantum theory. I idealize Bohr as a role model for his integrity and indomitable will power through which he defeated the greatest mind of his time(Einstein) and ushered us into the path of current day technology, most of which owes its existence to Quantum theory.
My strongest Skill
I think that humbleness combined with a learning spirit are my best skills that have helped me throughout my career.
My advice
I will advice him/her to be sincere and not misrepresent or twist data or a finding as failure to get a perfect data for modeling doesn't mean that you have done anything wrong. What is wrong is that you get a wrong data by not doing the experiment thoroughly. So be as thorough as you can and you will find this job to be a cake walk.
Books recommended
(1) Physics of Semiconductor Devices by S.M Sze
(2) My favorite: Semiconductor Physics and Devices by Donald Neamen
(3) Purdue University's modular series on semiconductor physics.
(4) Fundamentals of Modern VLSI Devices by Taur and Ning
Views about 'Tech product Introduction is weak among Indians'
I think its the mentality that separates us from the rest. Most of the educated in our country prefer to settle down in "stable" jobs and then do nothing. On the other hand there are masses of uneducated who might have talent but haven't had any basic resources to uplift themselves. I think the biggest overhaul is needed in our education system which was established long ago by our colonial rulers to create slaves and not masters. Until and unless our classrooms don't inculcate the leadership spirit and fearlessness in our minds, we will always be thinking inside the box as all the places outside the schools/colleges i.e. offices, streets, homes; all that we call our social life is filled with archaic thinking. Another thing that parents can contribute is to infuse the habit of questioning everything and everybody, but with genuine sense of inquisitiveness. I am sure these two changes in our country will definitely churn out companies like Apple and Intel in future.
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