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Deblina Sarkar is an assistant professor at MIT and AT&T Career Development Chair Professor at MIT Media Lab. She heads the Nano-Cybernetic Biotrek research group. Her group carries out trans-disciplinary research fusing engineering, applied physics, and biology, aiming to bridge the gap between nanotechnology and synthetic biology to develop disruptive technologies for nanoelectronic devices and create new paradigms for life-machine symbiosis.
Deblina is the inventor of the world’s thinnest channel (six atoms thick) quantum-mechanical transistor, which overcomes fundamental thermal limitations, could lead to energy reduction by more than 75%, and allows dimensional scalability to beyond the silicon-scaling era. Her research also showed for the first time that employment of atomically thin flexible 2D-materials and quantum mechanical transistors can lead to low-power nanoelectronic biosensors with both extremely high sensitivity and the potential for single-molecular detectability—greatly beneficial for wearable/implantable biomedical devices and point-of-care applications.
Apart from low-power electronic computation, Deblina is also passionately curious about biological computational systems—especially the brain—which can be thought of as an ultimate example of a low-power computer. She has developed the technology which achieves super-resolution mapping of the biomolecular building blocks of brain, using conventional optical microscope and allows deciphering of nanoscale structure of biomolecules, which are not otherwise accessible with existing technologies. This technology can help in elucidating the fundamental codes of brain computation.
Deblina’s PhD dissertation was honored as one of the top three dissertations throughout the USA and Canada in the field of mathematics, physical sciences, and all departments of engineering by the Council of Graduate Schools. She is the recipient of numerous other awards and recognitions, including the Lancaster Award at UC Santa Barbara for the best PhD Dissertation; the US Presidential Fellowship; Outstanding Doctoral Candidate Fellowship; one of three researchers worldwide to win the prestigious IEEE EDS PhD Fellowship Award in 2011. In 2018, she was named as one of MIT Technology Review’s Top 10 Innovators Under 35 from India and received the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. Her work has led to more than 40 publications to date (citations: 3665, h-index: 24, i-10 index: 31 according to Google Scholar).
Deblina’s long-term goal is to achieve seamless integration of nanoelectronics into biological systems to incorporate functionalities, not otherwise enabled by biology, and thus, transcending us beyond our biological limitations.