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Profile of an IBM Scientist: Abu Sebastian

Who: Abu Sebastian

Location: IBM Research – Zurich

Nationality: Indian (born in Kerala)

Abu (right) accepting the IFAC Award.

Something about me: I’ve lived on four different continents for at least three years including India (Asia), Nigeria (Africa), the state of Iowa in the U.S. (North America) and Switzerland (Europe).

Focus: Dynamics, modeling and control at the nanometer scale.

Nanotechnology was an emerging area when I was starting my PhD. We found that control and system-theoretic concepts can play a key role in addressing some of the challenging problems in the area. That is how I got into this field of research. The multi-disciplinary nature of the research as well as the strong experimental component makes it particularly attractive.

I have worked on, and continue to work on areas such as scanning-probe technology, nanopositioning, nanoscale sensing, and data storage. More recently, I have focused my attention on emerging memory  technologies. One area that keeps me awake at night is the development of a low-power, high endurance, scalable non-volatile memory concept that can bridge the wide performance gap in a computing system (between storage and the rest of the computing system).”

If I have to predict the future,  I see great potential for a memory element to serve simultaneously as both memory and logic, or even as component of a non-von-Neumann neuromorphic computing hardware.

Career Advice: The current multi-disciplinary nature of research demands a diverse background. For example, during my studies I focused my attentions in math, physics, systems theory and engineering.

Fond Memory:When I first joined IBM as a post-doc, I had the privilege to work on a project with IBM Fellow and Nobel Laureate Gerd Binnig. He was incredibly humble. I remember him once politely knocking on my office door asking, ‘Would it be okay if we scheduled some time for a chat?’

What’s New: Abu was recently awarded the International Federation of Automatic Control’s Young Researcher Award for 2013.

The award is presented triennially to a researcher who is 40 years or younger (on the first of March of the year of the award), who has an established a history of participation in and contributions to IFAC mechatronic systems activities, and who has demonstrated outstanding research contributions in mechatronics, either of a fundamental or applied nature.

Connect with Abu on LinkedIn.

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