College of Engineering News Room

Utkarsh Misra receives International research award

by Brad Stager

For senior electrical engineering undergraduate Utkarsh Misra, there’s not much difference between conducting innovative research in nanotechnology, and competing as a member of the University of South Florida rowing club. It’s all a matter of scale.

"When you are sitting in the lab after six hours of continuously making a mischievous, hard-to-see 2D material device with no success whatsoever, it's in those times when you are able to tell your brain and body that just like one more stroke on the water, another attempt in the lab can get you across the finish line," said Utkarsh.

Utkarsh Misra

Misra’s analysis of the intersection of electrical engineering and rowing reflects just one way he approaches solving problems. From his perspective, everything comes down to persistence, whether it be in the field of sports or science.

His sense of discipline has yielded opportunities to conduct research as an undergraduate assistant at USF’s Interface and Surface Science Laboratory. While working on projects such as using chemical vapor deposition and molecular beam epitaxy to grow platinum telluride crystals, which can be useful in chemical processes and in developing superconductive materials, he has acquired technical skills such as operating ultra-high vacuum equipment.

As a member of the College of Engineering’s NanoMechanics, NanoMaterials, NanoManufacturing Laboratory, or NM3L, Misra has participated in research investigating the movement of atoms based on the flow of current through a material, a phenomenon known as electromigration, to improve durability of electronic components. He is a co-author of the article Electromigration in Metal Interconnects via Hexagonal Boron Nitride as an Ångström‐Thin Passivation Layer which was published in the journal Advanced Electronic Materials.

Recently, his efforts have resulted in him being selected for the prestigious DAAD-RISE Germany award, co-funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Foundation) (DFG) and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange) (DAAD). The award funds students like Misra, for a STEM summer research project at a German university or research facility.

Misra, who also secured fellowships and offers from Purdue University’s SURF program and Honeywell for the summer, says he had several options as to how to develop his career between school terms, but the RISE opportunity to attend the Technische Universität Ilmenau in central Germany provided what he was looking for, intercultural scientific development.

“The focus of my work over the summer in Germany was toward exploring electrical properties of three and four-pin phototransistors made from ReS2 (Rhenium Disulfide). In the long run, I would like to work on efforts to commercialize the 2D semiconductor-based electronics and their 3D integration techniques using the existing state of the art silicon processing infrastructure.”

His DAAD project has not only provided him with an opportunity to conduct research at one of the top German institutions, but has also allowed for intercultural scientific learning, which he believes will help him advance his career as a young researcher.

Misra cites support from within the College of Engineering as contributing to his success. The opportunity to work with leading researchers, such as Mike Wang, Stephen Saddow, Ashwin Parthasarthy and Matthias Batzill, who are among USF's faculty, has been instrumental in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to achieve his professional goal of working collaboratively with people across the globe for a better future of the human society via the advancements of electronics. Misra also extends his immense gratitude towards College of Engineering’s Dean, Dean Bishop and his office for their continued support in his success.

As Misra finds himself spending his summer semester working hard at a prestigious STEM research institution and can enjoy being in central Europe, he constantly reflects on the choices he made in determining where to pursue his college education and what to study.

“Entering college, I was very certain that I would like to get involved in academic research during my time in college, which played a key role in my college selection process. USF being an R1 research university with an abundance of personnel and organizations promoting undergraduate research on all levels, in addition to it being affordable, clearly made USF my top choice.”

Besides his research and academic work, Misra has also been active in the USF IEEE chapter as a mentor and the organization’s professional development chair, and has developed leadership skills through participation in the Bulls LEAD program, an initiative of the College of Engineering Dean’s Office to prepare leaders for future.