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Micro/Nano Lithography

Video: Eugene Fitzgerald on translating innovation into products

The professor and serial entrepreneur says beginning with the right idea is key to innovating efficiently.
18 August 2011, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201108.03

Eugene Fitzgerald is the Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor of Materials Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Visiting Professor of Management and Visiting Engineering Professor at Cornell University. He is an SMA Fellow in the Singapore-MIT Alliance and is the founding director of the Business of Science and Technology Initiative at Cornell and the Kauffman Innovation Interface. He has substantial private sector business experience specializing in the commercialization of core technologies. He is the founder, co-founder, or founding team member in several start-up companies including AmberWave Systems Corporation, Contour Semiconductor, Paradigm Research, LLC, 4Power LLC, and The Water Initiative. He has 50+ issued US patents and has authored and co-authored more than 200 technical papers. He received a BS degree in Materials Science and Engineering in 1985 from MIT, and a PhD in from Cornell University in 1989.

Fitzgerald spent seven years at AT&T Bell Labs, where he worked on semiconductor materials and devices, and with colleagues demonstrated the first high-mobility strained-Si transistor in 1990. During those years he developed his interests in the innovation process and entrepreneurship. He is the author of Inside Real Innovation: How the Right Approach Can Move Ideas from R&D to Market -- And Get the Economy Moving (World Scientific) with coauthors Andreas Wankerl and Carl Schramm. He received the 2011 Andrew S. Grove Award from the IEEE Electron Devices Society, in recognition of outstanding contributions to solid-state devices and technology.

At MIT, his group's research activities attack the current limitations of electronic materials, especially limitations created by imperfections in materials such as point, line, and planar defects. Much of the group's efforts are focused on lattice-mismatched semiconductor systems, in which layers in electronic materials and devices have different lattice parameters. Such material combinations have potential in printing, storage, display, communications, and interconnect applications. But the utility of these materials depends on our ability to understand and eliminate crystalline defects which can be generated due to the lattice-mismatch between semiconductor layers. Fitzgerald has a strong interest in the process of commercializing fundamental technology advances; he currently has 28 issued U.S. patents and several others pending. In 1998, he founded AmberWave LLC, which became Amberwave Systems Corporation in 1999. He has previously held positions as director, chairman of the board, and chairman emeritus at AmberWave.

He was interviewed by SPIE Newsroom in his office at MIT in May 2011.